Saturday, 30 November 2019

What The Future Holds

The image to the left represents, as of yesterday, the number of articles I've published on Hockey Blog In Canada. It's a rather big number that kind of crept up on me, but it also represents a large swath of time over the last twelve years that has seen me do a lot of special things, go to some rather unique places and events, and has lead to some fantastic opportunities. I will never take these for granted, but significant milestones deserves a little reflection.

As I peer into the reflecting pool and as I watch time march on, time the one resource of which I constantly find myself wanting more and never having enough. In looking at this aspect of my life, the question of "when do I stop" lingers in the back of my mind. I know that writing about hockey has changed my views about hockey thanks to reading more books, talking to more people, and learning about the game, but I feel I have a lot more to learn about the game that I love. Would I pay attention to it as closely as I do without writing about it? Would something else fill the void if I decide to stop writing?

HBIC has led to me having a radio show and radio broadcasts of hockey games. It has led to me getting to talk to authors of books that I hold in high regard and the ability to read said books thanks to some generous publishers who send me books to read and review. It has led to guest spots on CBC radio, trips to faraway cities to watch hockey games, opportunities to meet players and work with teams and organizations, and so much more. I cannot thank everyone in this article for these amazing opportunities, but know that I am grateful that you've given a one-man writing team who scribes a goofy hockey blog a chance to experience some incredible moments.

Perhaps the one thing that I have always been grateful for more than anything else is the great hockey community that stops by here to read my crazy rants and silly articles. While there aren't many comments made on most of my articles, the fact that there seems to be a steady readership from across the world pleases me in that I'm always shocked that someone wants to read my words. 4500 articles have generated some 2.8 million page views according to the stats page on this blog, and I'm truly grateful for each of those visits even if it's just for five seconds before you say, "This dude's crazy" and search somewhere else for the information you seek.

In full disclosure, I actually don't know if that qualifies as a pageview under Google's terms today, but I'm grateful just to land on Google's radar when people are searching for hockey information.

I've been asked a number of times why I don't do something to make money off HBIC, and I've always felt that if I were to monetize this blog I would be sacrificing what I feel is the most important part of any blog in the readership and community that visits. Would it be great to make some money for my thoughts on the game? Sure, I'd be lying if I said differently. But the problem is that I'm not an expert or insider, I have no credentials in any part of the game, and I'm likely never going to have a job within any hockey organization that would justify charging anyone for my thoughts. As it stands, I write this blog for my love of the game and, I hope, your shared love for this game if you visit regularly, and there are no plans to change that model.

So what does the future hold? I actually don't know. I do know that I'll likely stick around for a bit longer because I still have a vested interest in the game. I want to see the game change for the better when it comes to inclusion, I want to see women's hockey get the recognition it so duly deserves along with a stable professional league that pays its players, at the very least, a livable wage so that hockey becomes their primary jobs as opposed to a paid hobby that often costs them money. I want to see players suffering from concussions and concussion-related issues taken care of by the hockey community so that they can get the help they need to have full, symptom-free lives. There are lots of things I still want to see, but only time will tell if they happen before I finally hang up the keyboard.

4500 becomes 4501 when I hit the publish button. Like time, I'm going to keep marching forward right here with more thoughts on the game of hockey. I'll hope you'll continue to join me.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 29 November 2019

Changing One Team's Culture

Brad Treliving's Friday wasn't a very good one. He held a press conference where he was emotional, he spoken about some of the awful things he's heard over the past week regarding Bill Peters' actions with other teams, and he's had to endure the court of public opinion calling not only for Peters' job but for Treliving's job as well as he was the man who hired Peters in Calgary. Treliving, I'm happy to announce, is staying in Calgary after his press conference today, but Bill Peters will not after he submitted his resignation, effective immediately, from the Calgary Flames, essentially ending this drama for the Alberta NHL franchise.

The press conference today was less about Bill Peters and more about what Treliving was doing behind the scenes with respect to the investigation into the allegations made against Peters. It seems that Treliving covered all his bases in doing the investigation into Peters, stating that he had spoken to Akim Aliu twice, Michal Jordan, teammates of theirs in Rockford and Carolina respectively, management and coaches with the IceHogs, and with the IceHogs' NHL affiliate in the Chicago Blackhawks. Treliving, however, wouldn't confirm if he spoke to former Hurricanes GM Ron Francis other than to say he spoke to the team.

The emotional portion of the press conference, though, can't be ignored as the things Treliving heard from the people he spoke to clearly had an effect on him.

"The subject matter we've been dealing with over the last few days is difficult, hard and it does not in any way reflect the core values of the Calgary Flames," he said as his eyes welled up with tears. "It's been a difficult time, but we are going to move forward."

As he explained that Peters had submitted his resignation, it became fairly apparent that the only course of action the Flames had to resolve this issue was to fire Peters. While Peters may have beat the Flames to the punch, the fact that Treliving was left with just one option is a pretty clear indication that Peters' words and actions with Rockford and Carolina are real. That's a serious problem, but Treliving did stress that what happened elsewhere with Peters was not seen during his time with the Flames.

"I want to reiterate these incidents didn't take place here," Treliving stated firmly. "We checked to see if there were any situations in our team where people were put into situations they were not comfortable with. There were none."

As a general manager, you kind of expect Treliving to look out for his team first, but it's a relief to see that Treliving actually spoke to his players and staff to see if there were any kind of abuses they suffered under Peters. If we're talking about changing hockey culture, this openness in discussing one's treatment without fear of shame or retribution of any kind in any situation is vitally important to making the changes we so desperately need to change the culture in and around hockey. Treliving deserves some credit in giving his staff and players a chance to speak up if they felt abused in any way.

It's clear, though, that the people howling for Peters to be fired and questioning Treliving's effectiveness as a general manager as the investigation continued began to wear on Treliving based on his comments.

"I've been criticized a lot over the last three to four days," Treliving began, "that things have not moved quickly, maybe not moved in a timely fashion. If I have not met anyone's time agenda I apologize, but it was more important that we get all the information. This was something that needed to be handed correctly, it needed to be handled in a timely fashion but I was not going to trade carelessness for thoroughness."

This, too, is an important part of the process as Aliu's allegations were treated seriously by starting the investigation, but one shouldn't be able to destroy the career of another without some actual proof. If Aliu's claims were verified by this investigation, the consequences of Peters' actions a decade ago would be upheld by the Flames. If there was no merit to the allegations, however, the investigation would also show that, and Peters' reputation wouldn't be sullied. Unfortunately, as we now know, Peters did wrong as per Aliu, and the investigation verified the allegations against Peters - game, set, match as the Flames had the proof they needed to make the changes they see fit for their club.

As of today, Bill Peters is no longer the head coach of the Calgary Flames. That decision was made by Peters, but it seems like an unavoidable conclusion to this story regardless of his resignation.

Let's be clear here: there's no place in hockey or society for what Bill Peters did. People will make mistakes and those mistakes have consequences, but the language he used and the actions he took should have a zero-tolerance policy. We, as fans, are asking for change in and around the game because hockey should be for everyone, but it seems that those changes are moving at glacier-speed in some cases. Change can be hard for those who done things a certain way over a period of time, but I want to give a stick-tap here to Brad Treliving because it seems like he's serious about changing the culture of hockey within his team.

"As we talk to our people there always has to be a feeling you can come forward if you've got an issue or a situation you don’t feel comfortable with," he said at the end of the press conference. "We talk to our players all the time – we try to give them outlets that they can come and communicate if they have issues they are uncomfortable with.

"I think the avenues we've got and some of the mechanisms we have in place for people to come forward if they need to are in place, but you always have to continue to look at them."

No one is saying that what Brad Treliving is doing in Calgary should be put on a pedestal as a shining beacon of how a good organization is run. However, what we should do is point to the Flames and credit them for putting a process in place that amounts to the most important part of change - the first step.

There are miles to go for hockey culture to change, but it starts with a first step.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 28 November 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 375

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is on the road tonight as I get a chance to dig into a really great story about the growth of women's hockey in the city of Winnipeg and, hopefully, across our great province. If you weren't aware of the Winnipeg Women's High School Hockey League before today, you'll be a little more in tune with the league following tonight's show as I venture out to Transcona Collegiate Institute to visit with the Titans women's hockey team who are the newest team in the league after starting play this year! In the last few years, the WWHSHL has grown by four teams with the Titans being the newest of the four, and we've seen amazing growth from the original four teams in 1996 to 26 teams today!

The Titans women's team was founded this season and joined the WWHSHL to go along with the Murdoch MacKay Clansmen who joined in 2018-19, the Collège Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau Canadiennes who jump into the league in 2017-18, and the Kildonan East Reivers who made their debut in 2016-17. These four expansion teams were placed in the Hire Marketing division this season as they look to improve and make the leap up to the higher divisions where some of the more established teams play. The Titans are currently 5-4-0-0 and sit in fifth-place in the nine-team division, so they're holding their own fairly well in their inaugural campaign! I'll talk to players, coaches, and staff tonight and get their thoughts on how the season is going, the growth of the game at the high school level and other levels in Winnipeg and Manitoba, some of the rivals as they work their way through Season One, and more as we meet the Titans at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 UMFM and umfm.com!

Where's the best place can you hear us if you're outside Winnipeg, you ask? The new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome if you want to listen online. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, but we highly recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or perhaps another browser. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

Having lost faith in Facebook, I spend far less time on that site for good reasons. In saying that, you can still 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! I'm here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz sits down with players, coaches, and staff from the Transcona Collegiate Titans women's hockey team to talk firsts, inaugural seasons, playing at the high school level, success in the WWHSHL, the growth of the sport, and much more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: November 28, 2019: Episode 375

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

That's Not How You Apologize

When it comes to apologies, they're never easy to make, especially publicly. No one likes that uneasy feeling of being called out for one's words or actions, but apologies are often a first step in admitting there is or was a problem on the way to some sort of resolution. If one messes up, it's easier to own it and apologize for it than to try to dance around it. Often, dancing around a problem just makes the situation worse. Today, we saw an incredible example of this when Calgary Flames head coach did everything but apologize to the person who took issue with his words and actions.

As you may be aware, Akim Aliu accused Peters of using a racial term about a decade ago when both were with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs. Everyone seemingly had an opinion on what to do about Peters, but there was never any corroborating evidence to prove Aliu's claim. That's not say that Peters didn't say the remark as I do believe that the allegation has merit to it, but I'm also not quick to condemn anyone for something as serious as a racist remark without proof when it comes to losing one's job or livelihood.

Today, however, it seems that Bill Peters not only corroborated Aliu's comments, but went right ahead and made it entirely worse with the letter than he penned to Flames GM Brad Treliving. The letter reads,
To: Brad Treliving, GM

November 27, 2019

Brad: Please accept this as a sincere apology to you, and the entire Calgary Flames organization, for offensive language I used in a professional setting a decade ago. I know that my comments have been the source of both anger and disappointment, and I understand why. Although it was an isolated and immediately regrettable incident, I take responsibility for what I said.

The statement was made in a moment of frustration and does not reflect my personal values. After the incident, I was rightfully challenged about my use of language, and I immediately returned to the dressing room to apologize to the team.

I have regretted the incident since it happened, and I now also apologize to anyone negatively affected by my words.

I am aware that there is no excuse for language that is offensive. I meant no disrespect in what I said, and it was not directed at anyone in particular. But, that doesn't matter; it was hurtful and demeaning. I am truly sorry.

I accept the reality of my actions. I do believe that we must strive to act with integrity, and to take accountability for what we say and do. This letter is intended to do exactly that; I hope it is accepted as intended.

I appreciate the thorough review of this situation being undertaken by the Flames. It's the right thing to do, and I support it fully.

Sincerely,
Bill Peters
Peters, who has known about the words he used towards Aliu for more than a decade, comes out with a letter that never once addresses Aliu nor apologizes to him directly. So if he's not addressing Aliu directly with this letter, I think Truman Burbank, played by Jim Carrey, states eloquently how I feel about this letter.
Ultimately, Peters went from being in a bad situation to making it entirely worse as this letter sounds like Peters is doing nothing more than saying the right things to keep his job. If this was some sort of apology-through-lawyers so that he didn't address Aliu directly in order to escape some sort of liability, it may work, but the elephant is still comfortably in the room at the conclusion of said letter.

Kids, this is the exact opposite of "owning up to your mistakes". If this were a sincere, heartfelt apology, Peters would have addressed Aliu by name in writing this letter. Instead, it comes off a cold, insincere letter to his boss that checks all the bosses in order to keep his job, but misses the point of the apology entirely.

With Peters basically admitting he said what he did, I don't see how the Flames can keep him around if he believes this is an acceptable apology. This public relations headache just turned into a full-fledged nightmare. I can't see anyway that the Flames can continue with Peters as their head coach after he completely whiffed on the purpose of an apology.

Regardless of the investigation's findings, it might be better if the Flames simply parted ways with their head coach now amidst this PR debacle. Sorry, Bill Peters, but this "apology" simply misses the point.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

We Have To Be Better

It's been a crazy few weeks in hockey, hasn't it? The three men above are embroiled in controversy for their comments and/or actions regarding their teams and/or the game of hockey, and these incidents are causing teams everywhere to pump the brakes and take a long, hard look at the actions of some individuals within those teams. I get that we live in a litigious society where spilling hot coffee brings about lawsuits against fast-food restaurants, but perhaps we're missing the bigger picture by simply losing sight of what is right, what is wrong, how to show respect, and how to be good to one another.

Look, I'm not here to single the three men out above for what they did or what they said. Two of them have lost jobs, and the third man seems perilously close to joining them on the unemployment line. There are always consequences for every action, decision, and impulse we act upon, and these men are living proof that their actions and decisions can occasionally come with rather drastic consequences.

There has been a lot of debate at my place of work about whether or not the actions and words of these men are acceptable today, and I have to believe that they are not. Specifically, I want to focus on what reportedly happened in Carolina regarding Bill Peters and former Hurricanes defenceman Michal Jordan. TSN's Frank Seravelli tweeted the following:
While the court of public opinion was quick to crucify Peters, the Calgary Flames are now investigating whether or not there is any veracity to this story while asking Peters to step away from the Flames' coaching duties while the investigation moves forward. I'm not here to serve as judge or jury on this story, but it seems there were enough witnesses to the incident between Jordan and Peters that it will be hard for Peters to deny.

This, however, is where I want to dig in a little deeper because there is never a moment at any point that a coach should assault a player like Peters seems to have done to Jordan, let alone invade a player's personal physical space at any time. The fact that Peters allegedly kicked Jordan for some unknown reason not only shows that there's a problem with how Peters approached this situation, but that his decision and action in kicking Jordan would be, can be, and should be categorized as assault.

Maybe, though, we need to take a broader overview of what's happening across the hockey spectrum as more and more players are speaking out about the atrocities and abuse suffered at the hands of coaches and fellow players. I have written article after article after article after article after article about the abuses that players and officials have endured from coaches and fans, and there are still people who claim that these players and officials are "soft" or can't cut it. They suggest that leaving the game might be an appropriate response if these players and officials "can't handle" the abuse they're taking. A lot of players and officials do, in fact, leave the game because of this abuse, but how on earth is this an acceptable solution to coaches and fans who feel that abusive behaviour is "part of the game" at the hockey rink?

It's hard for me to sit here and think that Bill Peters, as a coach, kicked a professional hockey player "pretty hard" in the back as he sat on the bench, but that seems to be exactly what happened. I don't care what Jordan did as a player - whether he missed a pass, gave up a scoring chance, or shot the puck in his own net - there is no acceptable reason or justification for Peters to have kicked him in the back, let alone kicked him at all. There is nothing "soft" about holding Bill Peters accountable for his actions in this case.

Let me be very clear: nothing, zero, none, zilch. I cannot stress the ZERO part enough of "nothing".

I don't know where we, as a society, started to veer off a path where we're good and just and fair and respectable. When I coached, I understood my role was to expand minds, get my players to improve, and always ensure that players were having fun. Yes, I didn't coach at the NHL level, but I'm pretty certain that kicking anyone literally or metaphorically would have resulted in me being removed from my coaching post rather quickly and with some extreme prejudice. So I have to ask why we tolerate those actions from an NHL coach, but not from any other coach at any other level?

Again, I'm not judge or jury when it comes to what the Calgary Flames will do regarding these allegations against their head coach while he was with other organizations. I do know that if we want hockey, as a whole, to be better, we need to flesh these problems out and demand accountability for the actions of these people. If we fail to drag these people who are committing these abuses into the light where their abuses can be exposed, this sport will never improve its image.

As a coach, you never strike a player for any reason. It's a pretty clear rule despite it being an unwritten rule. A pat on the back, a stick tap to the shin pads, or a fist bump would be acceptable interactions between a coach and a player. Kicking an unsuspecting player in the back as he sits on the bench would be classified as assault. There is no gray area here, and there never will be - Bill Peters assaulted Michal Jordan, and that alone should be a major red flag for any future employers.

We have to be better for this sport to be better. Case closed.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 25 November 2019

The Cost Of Concussions

If there's one thing that the CBC does well - maybe better than any other Canadian broadcaster - it's their investigative journalism programs. Whether it be Marketplace, The Investigators, or The Fifth Estate, the CBC seems to dig into subjects deeper than anyone else, and they usually cut to the bone when it comes to how they deliver their findings. Count me as a fan of these programs because they normally shed light on subjects that either no one is talking about or no one wants to talk about in our daily lives.

While a vast number of people across Canada were watching the CFL's Grey Cup game last night as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers downed the Hamilton Tiger Cats to end 29 years of heartbreak, the CBC was airing The Fifth Estate's latest piece of amazing journalism entitled Hockey Fight: Wives Reveal the Cost of Concussions. If you missed it, I implore you to watch the episode below.

Before we get to that, we need to remember that there are players at all levels who are suffering from concussions and concussion-related problems both during their careers and after their careers. The NHL has maintained that there is zero correlation between professional hockey at the NHL level and concussions or concussion-related problems. After players such as Wade Belak, Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, and Todd Ewen took their own lives, the wives of these players and the wives of players still alive who suffer from these symptoms are now speaking out about the NHL's responsibility in protecting players from what seems to be an uncertain future thanks to the injuries these players suffered while playing as "enforcers" in the NHL.

I'll let Bob McKeown take it from here. Below is The Fifth Estate's look at the cost of concussions in former NHL players that aired Sunday, November 24 on the CBC. I want to warn everyone that the topics in this program are for a mature audience, and there is some adult language. Viewer discretion is advised.

That's a pretty heavy topic for a Monday, but I think that The Fifth Estate did an excellent job at opening up discussion at the very least. These women cared and care for these men who are putting their bodies on the line night-in and night-out, and the NHL is essentially saying thanks for making us money, but you're on your own. As Kelli Ewen stated in the episode, it's about accepting responsibility. It's not about the money for her or for Jennifer Belak or for Ela Carcillo. Thank you, CBC and The Fifth Estate, for allowing these women to tell their stories about the men they care for so deeply.

If you missed the episode of The Hockey Show where I spoke with Jeremy Allingham about his new book Major Misconduct, you heard the stories of three men whose lives have essentially been shattered by concussions and concussion-related injuries. While James McEwen and Dale Purinton have found the light after falling into the darkness, there's still a lot to be worried about when it comes to the health and safety of Stephen Peat. I highly recommend you listen to Jeremy speak about these men who he interviewed for Major Misconduct to hear his plea for the NHL to reconsider its position on the matter. The podcast for the episode is posted below.


I want to give a big stick-tap to The Fifth Estate for their work in bringing this topic to light once more. It's very clear from the new science, tools, and understanding of concussions that this problem isn't going away, and will likely only get worse with the clear and repeated denials from the NHL about their part in the injuries sustained by the men who play the game.

I stand with Kelli Ewen, Jennifer Belak, Daniel and Ela Carcillo, and Jeremy Allingham in their efforts to have the NHL held accountable for their part in these awful stories and unfortunate tragedies.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 24 November 2019

The Rundown - Week 8

It's the final week of the season before the schedule "repeats" itself with the exception of change of venue meaning that the teams will start to face one another for the second time while playing in the opposite arena from the first meeting. With all the teams having seen one another for a weekend, it gives us a pretty good idea who may finish where based on this first-half schedule. There were some intriguing match-ups this week as a few teams were looking to climb the standings while others were looking to strengthen their positions within the conference. Who beat who this week? Let's dive into the action from this past weekend on The Rundown!

We'll start with the top team in conference as the UBC Thunderbirds played host the Mount Royal Cougars. UBC came into the game having earned points in ten-straight games as they vaulted up through the standings to claim first-place for at least a week. The Cougars, meanwhile, seem to have struggled in recent weeks and found themselves in the middle of the pack. With a couple of wins, MRU could be right back in the thick of the battle for first-place, but UBC's stout defence and stellar goaltending was looking to keep them atop the standings. Cassie Shokar would stand in the blue paint for Mount Royal while Tory Micklash was back between the pipes for the T-Birds.

As they had done in recent home games, the Thunderbirds came out with guns a-blazing as they peppered Shokar in the first period with shots from all over the offensive zone. Shokar, however, was unwilling to allow UBC to take a lead as she stopped all pucks sent her way. Micklash was far less busy in her zone as the UBC defence kept chances to a minimum, and we'd go into the first break tied 0-0, but with UBC leading in shots at a 12-4 count.

Early in the second period after the Cougars were whistled for too many players, the UBC power-play went to work. Shay-Lee McConnell's shot from the point was deflected in front by Ashley McFadden and past Shokar at 2:24 for the power-play marker and the 1-0 lead! From there, the Cougars re-invested themselves in defence, limiting the chances that UBC had on the next pair of power-plays they earned. UBC continued to play solid defence in front of Micklash, and at the second break the T-Birds held the 1-0 lead and an 18-8 advantage in shots.

The third period was more of the same as the two teams opened the frame playing tight defence, but a penalty to the Thunderbirds was the chance that MRU was seeking. 25 seconds into the power-play, a high shot by Emma Bergesen was deflected down by Anna Purschke and past Micklash as she was hunting for the high shot with her glove, and that goal at 6:43 would tie the game at 1-1! The teams opened up the game after that, finding chances at both ends of the ice, but both Shokar and Micklash were equal to the task. The final horn sounded on the game with the score tied 1-1, so we'd move to free hockey to find a winner!

In the first overtime frame, Nicolette Seper escape a checked and eluded another in the offensive zone before unloading a shot from the high slot that went off a UBC defender and past Micklash for the overtime winner as Mount Royal prevailed 2-1! Cassie Shokar earned her second win with a 28-save effort while Tory Micklash helped her team earn the overtime point after 18 saves.

Highlights of this game are below!

SATURDAY: With points in 11-straight games, UBC continued their climb in the standings. However, the loss snapped the T-Birds' winning streak, so they looked to start another on this day. Mount Royal's overtime win saw them grab two big points off the top team as they climbed back into the conversation for a home playoff date and a possible bye in the opening round, and they looked to sweep the Thunderbirds with a second win in enemy territory. Cassie Shokar got her second-straight start for the Cougars while Tory Micklash started her 14th consecutive game for the Thunderbirds.

This game was far more physical as there was a steady parade to the sin bin for both teams. That parade would benefit the Cougars midway through the opening period when Nicolette Seper walked out of the right corner to the hash marks, let a shot go that went off a defender's stick, and over Micklash's shoulder at 9:31 for the power-play goal and the 1-0 Mount Royal lead! The teams would trade power-play chances later in the period to no avail, and the Cougars would hit the intermission with the 1-0 lead, but trailing 9-7 in shots.

The second period saw the UBC Thunderbirds get a two-player advantage early in the period, but the Cougars escaped the danger with no harm. UBC continued to press in the frame as they looked to find the equalizer, but those chances were stifled by Shokar while secondary chances were swept aside by the MRU defence. Through two periods, the 1-0 Mount Royal lead held with UBC leading in shots by a 20-12 margin.

Another early power-play in the third period was killed off by the Cougars as opportunities passed by the Thunderbirds. Chances were had once again through this period, but both goalies were sharp as time ticked down. With 2:41 left in the third period, Micklash went to the bench for the extra attacker as the Thunderbirds aimed for the equalizer, but Shokar and the Cougars prevented any goals on this day as the Cougars captured victory by the 1-0 score! Cassie Shokar earned her third win and second shutout of the season with 28-save performance while Tory Micklash suffered the loss in a 16-save night.

Highlights of this game are below!

The inter-provincial battle of Saskatchewan took place this weekend as the Regina Cougars visited the Saskatchewan Huskies on Friday. Regina had been building momentum since their weekend sweep of Manitoba while the Huskies split with the Bisons one weekend ago. Could Regina keep the momentum going and get back into the playoff picture? Would Saskatchewan get back to their winning ways and create some space between them and other teams? Jane Kish started for the Cougars while the Huskies went with Camryn Drever in their crease.

Saskatchewan jumped out to an early lead in this one. Kish mishandled the puck behind her own net, allowing Brooklyn Haubrich to center to Bailee Bourassa who went over the glove of Kish at 4:32 to put the home squad out in front 1-0! Kish, though, would recover after the mishap, looking sharp for the remainder of the period as she denied some additional great chances by the Huskies. At the other end, Drever had a quiet period as she didn't see much action. Through 20 minutes, Saskatchewan held the 1-0 lead and a 9-2 edge in shots.

The second period began as the first period did, and that means we had a goal scored! Jordan Kulbida streaked down the right wing, crossed over the line, and snapped a laser of a shot over Drever's shoulder and under the crossbar to tie the game at 1-1 at 4:31! Saskatchewan upped their game following the goal, but Kish wasn't interested in giving up the lead. Regina did manage a handful of shots in the period, but it was their goal that mattered as the teams went into the second break tied 1-1 with the Huskies leading in shots 20-7.

A late second-period penalty to the Huskies carried over to the third period, and the Cougars would be opportunistic on that remaining time. The Cougars worked the puck around before Tamara McVannel fired a shot short-side on Drever that found room just 41 seconds into the final frame to put the Cougars up 2-1! There were a pile of penalties handed out six minutes into this period, and it seems that Saskatchewan wasn't happy with those results as they negated their own power-play when the bench was penalized. As the teams played evenly, it would a late power-play where the Huskies would strike. Bailee Bourassa sniped a puck past Kish with 4:47 to play as they game was tied at 2-2! The final horn would sound with both teams still looking for the lead, and this game would need extra time to find a winner!

The first overtime period didn't produce a winner as Regina controlled the pace. The second overtime saw the tables turn as Saskatchewan was the aggressor, but no goals would be scored in that frame. It was off to the shootout to find a winner. In Round One, Saskatchewan's Sophie Lalor was stopped, but Jordan Kulbida scored to put Regina up. Round Two saw Abby Shirley of the Huskies and Jaycee Magwood stopped. Round Three saw Bailee Bourassa score to tie the shootout up at 1-1 before Regina's Jenna Merk stepped onto the ice.
Merk's goal powered the Regina Cougars to the 3-2 shootout victory! Jane Kish earned her fifth win of the season after stopping 31 shots while Camryn Drever took the shootout loss after making 16 saves, but only one save in the shootout.

For some reason, the Saskatchewan Huskies failed to produce a highlight package. Let's get on that, Huskies!

The home-and-home series moved south to Regina for the second-half of the weekend series. Regina grabbed two of three points the night before to continue their drive for the playoffs while Saskatchewan needed to find some points to fend off teams who had won on Friday. This was a big game for both teams as Jessica Vance got the start for the Huskies while the Cougars opted for Morgan Baker to defend their cage.

The Huskies, like they did on Friday, started this game with an early goal as Courtney Cormack's initial slap shot was stopped by Baker, but Chelsea Debusschere found the rebound and buried it past Baker at 5:30 to put the Huskies up 1-0! And just as they did on Friday, Saskatchewan would carry the offence through most of the first period, including a power-play late in the period. However, Baker and the Cougars withstood the attack as Jaycee Magwood escaped the sin bin, found the puck, and scored 11 seconds after getting out of the penalty box on an incredible individual effort to beat Vance at 18:00 to make it a 1-1 game! That score would be carried into the intermission as the teams remained tied at 1-1, but Saskatchewan held an 8-3 edge in shots!

The second period was played much more evenly as both squads upped their defensive awareness. Just before the seven-minute mark, Jaydn Kushniruk's shot was stopped by Vance, but Paige Hubbard was in the right spot as she found the rebound and dented twine at 6:43 to put the Cougars up 2-1! The two teams battled through the next five minutes before Regina was called for a penalty, and the Huskies power-play went back to work. On the advantage, the Huskies moved the puck around before Abby Shirley found Rachel Lundberg in the high slot where Lundberg wired home a shot past Baker at 13:03 for the power-play goal and the equalizer as this game sat at 2-2! A couple of power-plays late for Regina produced no additional goals, so we'd head to the second intermission tied 2-2, but with Saskatchewan up 14-7 in shots.

The second of the two power-plays carried into the third period, and Regina still couldn't muster up another goal on Vance. That came back to haunt them as the Huskies roared down the ice as the penalty expired, and Bailee Bourassa fired home a setup from Emily Upgang just five seconds after the penalty expired to put the Huskies up 3-2 at 1:36! Just as it did the day before, the third period was played far more wide open compared to the previous two periods, and the room on the ice allowed Elizabeth Salyn to find the back of the net behind Baker on a great individual effort to make it 4-2 Saskatchewan with 6:40 to play! Regina wasn't about to go quietly into the night, though, as Jadyn Kushniruk beat Vance at 17:09 to make it a 4-3 game, but the Cougars couldn't beat Vance again, even with the extra attacker, as the Huskies held on for the 4-3 victory! Jessica Vance made just ten saves to record her fifth win of the season while Morgan Baker took the loss after stopping 20 shots on this night.

I'm not sure if it was a Saskatchewan thing this weekend, but the Regina Cougars decided that no highlights of this game would be produced either. What's with these teams skipping out on highlights?

The Alberta home-and-home series started in Calgary this weekend as the Lethbridge Pronghorns visited the Calgary Dinos. The Pronghorns have flirted with first-place all season long, and beating the Dinos would certainly open up some space between the two clubs. The Dinos were hunting for their own share of first-place with a sweep over the Pronghorns while delivering a serious blow to the Pronghorns' success thus far. With a lot on the line between these two squads, there was no doubt that Alicia Anderson would start for Lethbridge while Kelsey Roberts was in net for Calgary.

Both teams started this game by playing good defence as shots were hard to come by through most of the opening frame. There were chances that neither side could find the net on, but the defences looked good through the majority of the first period. A late penalty to the Pronghorns would prove fruitful for the Dinos as Delaney Frey loaded up the one-timer from the right face-off circle, and her shot beat Anderson who seemed to react slow to the setup for the power-play goal and the 1-0 lead at 17:01! That lone goal would stand as the teams went into the break with the Dinos up a goal and leading 6-5 in shots.

The second period saw the Dinos come out of the tunnel with all sorts of energy as they took the game to the Pronghorns. Anderson was under siege in this period as the Dinos continued to throw pucks at the net and chip at rebounds, and that strategy would pay off. Rebecca Clarke drove into the slot and got a backhander away that Anderson stopped, but Frey chipped the rebound up and over Anderson for her second of the game at 8:33 to make it 2-0! Just nine seconds later, a misplay along the boards allowed Frey and Sara Craven to come in two-on-one. Frey fed Craven, and she went to the backhand, catching Anderson sliding the wrong way, before putting the puck in the yawning cage to make it 3-0 for Calgary! Three minutes later, a turnover in the Lethbridge end would see the puck on Elizabeth Lang's stick, and she fed Holly Reuther in the slot for the one-timer past Anderson at 11:16 to give the Dinos a four-goal lead! If there was anything for the Pronghorns to build off of, it was Alli Borrow's goal late in the period as she skated off the half-boards, chose to keep the puck rather than passing, and went over Roberts' glove to make it 4-1 at 16:08. When the dust settled on the middle frame, that 4-1 lead was still intact and Calgary holding a 21-12 advantage in shots.

The third period was more of the same as it seems the three-goal outburst in the second period killed the life on the Pronghorns bench while energizing the Dinos bench. 57 seconds into the final frame, Merissa Dawson's point shot deflected off a Lethbridge defender and caught Anderson moving the wrong direction as the puck slid into the net to make it 5-1 for the Dinos. From there, it was simply a matter of protecting the lead, and the Dinos would do that en route to the 5-1 victory. Kelsey Roberts earned her ninth win of the season by stopping 16 shots while Alicia Anderson suffered the loss despite making 30 saves in this game.

Highlights of this game are below!

After dropping the first-half in Calgary, Lethbridge returned home knowing they needed to split the weekend if they were going to keep pace with the pack. The Dinos, with a win, had a chance to put a bit of a cushion between them and everyone else. This game meant a lot to both teams, so it's no surprise that Kelsey Roberts started for Calgary once again while the Pronghorns went back to their ace in Alicia Anderson.

The Pronghorns flipped the script and came out with all sorts of pucks being sent at Roberts in the opening frame, but the period would start just as the Friday game did. Delaney Frey picked up a bank pass off the boards, skated in the right side, took a shot that Anderson stopped, but she picked up her own rebound and beat Anderson to give the Dinos the 1-0 lead just 5:52 into the game! The Pronghorns went back to work and continued to pepper Roberts, but they'd come up empty in the first period as Roberts stood her ground. The Dinos began to shift momentum later in the period as they got their legs going as well, but Anderson would give nothing else up. At the first break, the Dinos held the 1-0 lead, but were being outshot 14-11.

The second period saw the offensive outburst from both teams continue. Early in the period while on the power-play, Kyra Greig took the puck behind the net and made a beautiful feed to Tricia Van Vaerenbergh as Roberts moved laterally to follow Greig, leaving Van Vaerenbergh an open net to shoot at and she made no mistake to tie the contest at 1-1 at 4:07! 56 seconds later, Tallon Stephenson centered a pass as Kianna Dietz came out of a scrum in the corner, and Dietz outwaited Roberts before slipping the puck behind her to make it a 2-1 Lethbridge lead! That lead was short-lived, though, as 1:56 after Lethbridge took the lead, Merissa Dawson's point shot would be deflected in front by Chelsea Court past Anderson to make it a 2-2 game at 6:59! The two teams would continue to trade chances through next few minutes before Sara Craven spotted a wide-open Elizabeth Lang in front of Anderson, and Lang used her reach to sweep the puck around Anderson at 10:15 to make it a 3-2 game for the Dinos! If you can believe it, that's where the goal scoring ended in this period as the final ten minutes saw Anderson and Roberts pick up their games and deny all chances until the horn. At the second intermission, the Dinos held a 3-2 lead, but Lethbridge was ahead in shots by a 30-20 margin.

The third period started with a quick off a broken play as a turnover in the Calgary zone after dispossessing the Pronghorns of the puck landed on the stick of Sage Sansregret, and she wired a low wrist shot past Roberts from the right hash marks to tie the game at 3-3 at 2:06! That goal seemed to light a serious fire under the Dinos as they nearly doubled their shot total from the previous two periods in the final frame. The problem, however, was Alicia Anderson who came out in third period and put up a wall in front of the Lethbridge net. The final minute of play saw all sorts of glorious chances at both ends of the ice, but neither side could find the twine! When the final horn sounded, the 3-3 tie remained so we were treated to some free hockey!

The first overtime period of four-on-four hockey saw the Dinos carry the play, but no goals were scored. Lethbridge was better in the three-on-three overtime period, but they couldn't find a goal either. That left us with the skills competition where Elizabeth Lang was stopped in Round One, but Kianna Dietz went five-hole on Roberts to put Lethbridge up a goal in the shootout. Round Two saw both Delaney Frey and Alli Borrow stopped, so it came down to Calgary's Brooke Dennett who had to score to keep the shootout going, but Anderson denied her to give Lethbridge the 4-3 shootout victory! Alicia Anderson stopped 40 shots in the 70 minutes of play plus three more in the shootout to win her seventh game of the season while Kelsey Roberts stopped 35 shots in the timed hockey before stopping one of two shots in the shootout for the shootout loss.

Highlights of this one, including that crazy last minute, are below!

In the final games of the weekend, the struggling Manitoba Bisons visited Edmonton where they met the struggling Alberta Pandas. It's no secret that the Bisons are in tough when it comes to scoring goals whereas the Pandas seemingly can't win the five-on-five scoring battle. Can the Bisons find any offence to challenge the Pandas? Can the Pandas tap into their depth scoring? We'd find out on Friday as Amanda Schubert got the start for Manitoba while the Pandas responded with Halle Oswald in their net.

Let's be honest: the Pandas always bring their game when Manitoba visits, and Friday was no different. Danielle Hardy buried a puck that bounced out front as Manitoba's Jordy Zacharias tried to backhand the puck around the boards, and Alberta was off and running 1:15 into the game with the 1-0 lead. Hardy would also end the period with a goal when she swept the rebound off Abby Benning's point shot under Schubert at 19:50 to send Alberta into the intermission with a 2-0 lead and a 14-2 advantage in shots.

Early in the second period, Benning's shot from the point off a face-off in the Bisons zone pinballed off Lisa Lloyd to Chelsea Dearsley, and she went over Schubert's glove at 2:58 to put Alberta up 3-0. Just before the midpoint of the period, Kennedy Ganser and Autumn MacDougall played give-and-go as Ganser got free, and she sniped a shot high over Schubert's left shoulder to make it 4-0 at 9:36. Minutes later, Benning sent Alex Poznikoff off to the races as she split the defence and pulled away from the Bisons before slowing up, putting a deke on Schubert, and went high on the backhand under the bar as Schubert sprawled to make it 5-0 at 11:18. Manitoba would find a goal with 5:09 left in the period off a goalmouth scramble that saw Mekaela Fisher jam the puck under Oswald to make it a 5-1 game. Through 40 minutes, that score would hold while Alberta held a 27-10 edge in shots.

There would be no comeback for the Bisons on this day as Danielle Hardy wrapped up the scoring at 10:35 by picking up a Poznikoff rebound and burying it behind a prone Schubert for the hat trick and the 6-1 lead. When the final horn sounded, that score held up as the Pandas skated to victory on this night. Halle Oswald had a quiet night with 14 saves in picking up her fourth win of the season while Amanda Schubert made 35 saves in the loss.

Highlights are below!

SATURDAY: Alberta was looking for the sweep after a big win over the Bisons one night earlier. The sweep would put the Pandas right back into the thick of the race for first-place in Canada West. The Bisons, meanwhile, would take a win in any way, shape, or form at this point. Saturday's game saw the Bisons start Erin Fargey while the Pandas went with Kirsten Chamberlin.

While the Bisons played a better game today, the scoreboard didn't reflect that. A first-period goal by Alex Gowie, second period goals by Alex Poznikoff, Regan Wright, and Gowie again, and a third-period goal by Poznikoff was more than enough offence needed by the Pandas. Manitoba did play a much better third period as they outshot the Pandas for the first time in six frames by a 12-10 edge, but the 5-0 score would be the final when the horn sounded after sixty minutes.

Kirsten Chamberlin picked up her fourth win and second shutout of the season in stopping all 19 shots she faced while Erin Fargey stopped 29 shots in this game.

Highlights of this game are below!

CWUAA WOMEN'S HOCKEY
School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
Calgary
8-4-1-1
27 30 23
L1
@ REG
British Columbia
7-2-1-3
26 27 26
L2
vs ALB
Alberta
7-6-1-0
23 42 19
W3
@ UBC
Mount Royal
7-6-1-0
23 23 16
W2
@ SAS
Saskatchewan
6-4-1-3
23 23 23
W1
vs MRU
Lethbridge
6-6-1-1
21 29 35
W1
@ MAN
Regina
3-8-3-0
15 22 33
L1
vs CAL
Manitoba
3-10-0-1
10 12 33
L2
vs LET

The Last Word

We've seen every team play every other team over a weekend now, so we truly should start getting an accurate picture of who will make the playoffs, who will not, and who may finish where. Let's start with the teams that might be in trouble when it comes to post-season dreams.

If we're looking at trends, both teams that missed the playoffs one year ago - Calgary and Lethbridge - had nine regulation losses to their names after playing every team. In 2017-18, Mount Royal has 10 losses after 14 games while Calgary had eight losses, but Mount Royal made the playoffs despite dropping four-straight games to finish the season after Lethbridge lost an unfathomable 14-straight games while Calgary went 3-10-1-0 over their last 14 games to miss by three points. In 2016-17, both Calgary and Lethbridge had ten and nine losses at this point in the season, respectively, and both missed the playoffs.

If we're basing our predictions on current trends, both the Manitoba Bisons and the Regina Cougars appear that they will miss the playoffs this season. Manitoba shouldn't be included in any playoff discussion after three goals in a game this season just once while being shutout in seven of their first 14 games. Don't even mention "Manitoba" and "playoffs" in the same sentence from this point on.

Regina is the second-lowest team when it comes to scoring, and they have the second-worst goal differential. That combination isn't good when trying to hunt down teams above them, and they are a full six points behind sixth-place right now. Regina started the season slow against some of the better teams in Canada West, so Regina will need to elevate their game to try and close the gap early on the six teams ahead of them. If they fall further behind, their chances of making the playoffs only get smaller.

Defensively, I like UBC to finish in a top-two spot. Yes, they dropped a couple of games against Mount Royal, but there's no denying that were the best defensive team through the first-half of the season outside of that opening weekend against Alberta. I wouldn't count the Pands out of a top-two finish, but they'll be in tough against a very good Calgary team that has exceptional goaltending and solid depth scoring. Mount Royal will be tough down the stretch as they've taken games off all the top teams, but they need to keep their game elevated against the lesser teams. I worry about Saskatchewan and their lack of offence in a season where scoring goals seems just as important as stopping them, and that could be the break that Lethbridge needs to move ahead of them.

Of course, they play the games for a reason, and just as Lethbridge went on that unbelievable streak where they dropped 14-straight games in 2017-18, perhaps one of the teams in Canada West will go on a hot streak that will change the standings dramatically. There's only one week left before the December break, and all eight teams are looking to finish off 2019 on a winning note! Get down to your local arena and catch some Canada West hockey action next weekend!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Just Stop

With the resurgence in 1990s-era jerseys in the NHL over the last few weeks, we need to address the elephant in the room that is some of the 1990s-era jerseys that were hated. The Islanders' Fisherman jersey, the Wild Wing jersey, and the Burger King jersey were all ripped on hard by hockey fans, and that's completely within their rights to express those opinions and not spend their hard-earned dollars on that merchandise. However, after seeing the leaks of the new Stadium Series jerseys for both the Los Angeles Kings and the Colorado Avalanche, you cannot like these jerseys if you hated on the other "innovative" jerseys.

Honestly, you totally can like one and not the other, but it seems like it may be a tad hypocritical. Of course, that's just my opinion and you're welcome to disagree with me since I have defended the Fisherman design since its inception, but I found the Wild Wing jersey and the Burger King jersey to be just way too "minor league" when it comes to jerseys worn by NHL players. And to be honest, this year's Stadium Series jerseys are on the same side as those two jerseys.

The Avalanche will wear the uniforms to the left if several sites are to be believed. It seems these "Call of the Mountains" jerseys incorporate all the key parts of the Avalanche's brand - proper colours and the capital "A" logo built into a mountain - but there's a significant problem with the design in that I can't stop seeing a mountain teetering atop another mountain in the middle of the jersey. Yes, I know it's the capital-A as per the Avs' logo, but I just can't un-see the mountain atop a mountain. A couple of people I've spoken with have made an Eye of Providence reference, but whatever the case may be with this logo this jersey design just feels all sorts of wrong.

And then there are the Los Angeles Kings who simply feel like they were worried about taking an incomplete on this assignment, and decided to throw together something that would get them any sort of grade. As a few of us may know from school, these grades received were usually lousy due to the rush job and lack of effort, so it should be no surprise that the Kings are receiving a terrible grade from me for their lousy job with their design as well. What does the angled white portion signify? If that's supposed to be a mountain or snow, is the "LA" racing uphill on snow? Where is the Kings' logo in all this? And why aren't there more design elements anywhere on this jersey? If one was looking for a grade of "F" on a jersey, this one gets it due to the fact that it feels incomplete, very minor-league in its design, and seems to have zero thought-process involved in the design.

A co-worker of mine named Andy - yes, he's getting some credit here - made a great observation about both jerseys. He asked, "Is this the first outdoor game where both teams are required to look like beer cans?"

I'm not here to peddle conspiracy theories, but I found that comment interesting as the game is being played in Colorado Springs, Colorado while being sponsored by Coors Light which is brewed at the the Colorado-based Coors Brewing Company. We know beer companies have played a large part in hockey's history, so could what Andy said actually be true in that these jerseys took on a bit of a Coors-esque look in their designs? I'm not one to believe that as I try to downplay conspiracy theories, but that was quite the leap that Andy took after seeing the leaked designs for the first time.

Whatever the case may be, here's where I draw the line. Yes, it's the same line in the sand I've drawn before, but let's draw it once more as the NHL's tide of money seemingly keeps wiping out the line as it washes ashore. STOP WITH THE OUTDOOR GAMES! The NHL has gimmicked this idea to death, but keeps going back for more because of the money they bring in. It has to stop at some point because it's no longer special. It's just another game on the schedule for the players that features a whole new set of risks and safety hazards when it comes to ice conditions. Frankly, I don't care about the Winter Classic any longer because it's not a "classic" in any way any longer with multiple outdoor games per season, the match-ups in most of these games are awful, and the venues still haven't improved the viewer aspect for the people who pay to go to the games.

It's time for these games to end. The jersey designs alone are horrendous, but the fact that less and less people seem to care about the mystique of playing outdoors makes them unspecial at this point. And if it doesn't matter to the majority of fans, perhaps it's time for the NHL to move on to another gimmick because all of these games feel like a forced adventure.

Just stop, NHL. It got old fast.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 22 November 2019

A Late Addition

It was a bit of a shock back on September 9 when the University of Manitoba Bisons women's hockey team announced their recruiting class for the 2020-21 season. Normally, you don't expect a team preparing for the 2019 season to have their scouting done and signed for 2020 season, but it was pretty clear the Bisons knew who they wanted when it comes to next season. Until today, that is, when they announced a sixth player who will join the Bisons for the 2020-21 season!

As per the College Commitments website, the Bisons will add winger Aimee Patrick of the St. Mary's Academy Flames prep team next season as their sixth recruit for the 2020-21 season! Patrick currently is third in scoring for the Flames with two goals and four assists, but the 5'9" winger skates well, uses her size to battle to the front of the net and along the boards, and has the hands to finish around the net.

If there's one drawback to Patrick's game, it's that she is susceptible to penalties being called against her based on how she plays. While she skates well, she occasionally gets caught not moving her feet and will take a penalty, and Patrick using her size occasionally gets her in trouble for bodychecking. These are rather easily-correctable problems that I assume coach Rempel and his staff will resolve once Patrick gets to camp, but it's notable that she leads the Flames in PIMs after nine games in the CSSHL.

With the Bisons having two players in their fifth years of eligibility in Jordy Zacharias and Amanda Schubert, there will be a number of players who will compete for their minutes next season. Incoming recruit Meagan Relf will likely find playing time behind Erin Fargey with Schubert graduating out of the program, but it's a little more confusing up front where five players will compete for Zacharias' playing time along with at least one of this year's recruits. This is where the numbers don't really add up for me.

Look, I'm never going to complain about kids wanting to further their education by getting a break to go to university through their athletic endeavours and abilities, but I'm slightly confused about this numbers game that head coach Jon Rempel is playing next season. Unless there are additional players who may be considering other options outside of Bisons hockey, the Bisons will have a larger collection of scratched players in the 2020 season than any other that I can remember. If coach Rempel is simply leveraging the best players in Manitoba for his squad through sheer numbers, that's an avenue he's free to explore, but I'm not sure it helps if there are players who find themselves sitting more than playing.

The thing that seems to happen with the Bisons is that there are specific eras where the staff recruits heavily from one program. It happened in the early part of the last decade where the Balmoral Hall Blazers were heavily featured throughout the Bisons' lineup. It seems that the St. Mary's Academy Flames, who have had some success in the CSSHL, are getting their era now with the three recent recruiting classes.

Regardless of me doing any questioning of coach Rempel and his staff's recruitment process, I'm excited to see Aimee Patrick join the Bisons. She's going to be another great addition to the program from the Flames just as Katie Chatyrbok, Sarah Dennehy, and Kate Gregoire are, and just as Bisons alumni Nicole McGlenen was over her five years and Jenna Thompson was for a season.

As the Bisons rebuild their program following a national championship season and some exceptional seasons, the Flames will play a large part in getting the program back to national recognition. And while the hockey is important, it's even more encouraging to see these young women do some amazing things in the classroom as well.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 21 November 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 374

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns to the cozy confines of the studio tonight as there is a lot of hockey news to go over from the last few weeks. From suspensions to dismissals to snapping scoreless droughts, there was definitely some big news coming out of the hockey world just in this last week, but I'll sit down with Jason Pchajek, sports editor of The Manitoban, and Bryan Sveinsson, host of Beyond The Panel heard Tuesdays on UMFM, to discuss some of these news-worthy stories. The debate will be lively, so get yourself settled in for another great chat with these two gentlemen!

If I may, please allow me to indulge you with a short video of where our show will begin tonight.
If you're aware of the "Magic Loogie" scene from Seinfeld, we'll begin The Hockey Show tonight with a discussion about Washington's Garnet Hathaway being suspended for three games by the NHL for spitting on Anaheim's Eric Gudbranson after those two got in a bit of a tussle. Both Jason and Bryan have thoughts on the matter, so we'll have a discussion about that. Along with the spitting incident, we'll talk about the earth cracking open in the middle of Toronto as the Leafs fired head coach Mike Babcock after a slow start to this season. We'll touch on the Bisons women's hockey team breaking their scoring drought along with previewing the men's hockey weekend as the Bisons men's team welcomes the Canada West-leading Alberta Golden Bears to Wayne Fleming Arena. We touch on the NHLPA quietly filing their grievance on behalf of Dustin Byfuglien with the NHL, Mikhail Berdin of the Moose being named the CCM/AHL Player of the Week while being the most fun part of the Moose this season, and John Scott makes his play-by-play broadcaster debut for the Trinity West Spartans this past weekend! All of this and more - if we can squeeze more in - happens tonight at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 UMFM and umfm.com!

Where's the best place can you hear us if you're outside Winnipeg, you ask? The new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome if you want to listen online. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, but we highly recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or perhaps another browser. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

Having lost faith in Facebook, I spend far less time on that site for good reasons. In saying that, you can still 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! I'm here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz sits down with Jason Pchajek and Bryan Sveinsson to discuss player expectorations, coach dismissals, snapping droughts, welcoming Ursus arctos californicus to Manitoba, enjoying the Birdman, a new voice on the west coast for hockey, and much more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: November 21, 2019: Episode 374

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

When They Just Played Sixty

I don't think there are many hockey fans who would disagree with the notion that three-on-three overtime hockey is some of the best and most exciting hockey that we see today. There's so much room for players to gain speed and show creativity, but there was a long period of time where overtime simply didn't exist. I know it's hard to believe, but the final horn after sixty minutes was the final horn of the game regardless of whether the two teams were tied or not. If they were tied, the two points were split with each team getting a point, and everyone moved on. That practice actually started on this day in history!

Back in 1942, every industry in North America was completely immersed in World War II in terms of having brave men and women enroll in the military for their respective countries. The NHL was no different as the men playing in the league went over to Europe as participants in the war. There were enough players from the Brooklyn Americans who went over for the US military that the league suspended the Americans franchise, thereby beginning the start of the Original Six era as the Bruins, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Rangers, and Black Hawks would make up the NHL until the league doubled in size in 1967.

Because war-time travel restrictions were in effect, the NHL was forced to adapt to the various changes that the train schedules underwent, and it caused some serious scheduling issues when teams were booking tickets to their next stop via those trains if they were forced to play overtime. In short, there was concern that teams may miss trains if played overtime. If you're not aware, teams played a full 20-minute overtime period where teams could score as many goals as they liked as if it were a regular period of hockey. Sudden-death overtime wouldn't be introduced into the NHL much later. Now you see why there may have been concerns about making trains if teams were forced to play a full fourth period while train schedules were restricted.

On November 20, 1942, NHL President Frank Calder made the decision to cancel overtime periods during the regular season indefinitely while the war-time travel restrictions were in place. As The Associated Press reported in the snippet to the right, Calder made the decision to have the teams play the full 60-minute game as usual, but if there the teams were tied at the end of the 60 minutes, the game would end in a draw. Each team would receive one point of the two total points available, and the visitors would still have enough time to get to the train station so they could make their next stop in time. I know the AP said that Calder didn't elaborate, but I'm not sure what he would need to elaborate on after making this decision. It seems pretty straightforward.

Officially, the last overtime game that season was played on November 10, 1942 between the Chicago Black Hawks and the New York Rangers in a game that saw the Rangers prevail by a 5-3 score. Tied 3-3 at the end of 60 minutes, the Rangers would win their second game of the season by scoring a pair of goals in the extra period of play.

Here's the twist in this story, though. The NHL, in its infinite wisdom, didn't reinstate playing overtime during the regular season until the 1983-84 season when a five-minute, sudden-death overtime period was tacked on to games tied after 60 minutes. Why did it take 41 years for the league to re-introduce overtime in regular-season games? There is no official reason, but it seems that the owners and the league were content with games ending as ties with the two teams splitting the points.

It's a little strange to believe that train schedules were the reason for the NHL abandoning regular-season overtime for 41 years, but that's exactly what happened on this day back in 1942.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Twitter Winner, Chicken Dinner!

If you missed the fun that the Manitoba Moose are having in the AHL, the Moose have won six games in a row and goaltender Mikhail Berdin, pictured to the left, has been a big part of the action. Not only has Berdin been a wall in the net for Manitoba, he's even shown that he won't put up with players intruding on his work space. In other words, the "Birdman" has given the AHL all the evidence they need for a weekly award they hand out. All Berdin had to do was wait for the AHL to call to make it official as the team prepared for their road games against Belleville later this week.

First, let's get the scuffle out of the way before we get to what Berdin does best. It seems that San Antonio's Jordan Nolan was a tad more aggressive than he should have been around the Moose netminder, and Mikhail Berdin did not take that lightly.
His post-game comments about Nolan invading his space only makes me like Berdin more. Who doesn't love a goalie who defends his crease and doesn't care who skated into it?

Anyway, Berdin was named the CCM/AHL Player of the Week for his outstanding netminding in helping the Moose win their last six games. As you can see in the tweet below, the Birdman was on fire when it came to stopping pucks - 148 saves on 153 shots during the week leading to a 1.24 goals-against average and a .967 save percentage! When you're as hot as Berdin is, it's going to lead to some fun around the franchise, and the Moose social media team had some fun thanks to the Birdman's performances!
That is OUTSTANDING! Whoever came up with this bit deserves some serious kudos. If you're a fan of Family Guy, you know this scene for how ridiculous it is, but for the Moose to use it to promote Mikhail Berdin's work last week is pure genius!

The Manitoba Moose won Twitter this week. There's nothing else that will even come close to this level of social media badass-edness.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 18 November 2019

Back To His Roots?

Plants that are unwanted, often hard to kill, and return are being eradicated are often categorized as weeds. While no one would ever believe that grapes are a weed, it seems that the man called "Grapes" keeps coming back and reinventing himself after it seemed that he might be gone for good. Don Cherry, fresh off being fired from Hockey Night in Canada by Sportsnet, announced today that he would bring back his brand of entertainment under the name of his 1980s TV show as Don Cherry's Grapevine begins as a podcast starting tomorrow.

The 85 year-old Cherry will reportedly record the podcast with his son, Tim Cherry, and he plans on addressing his dismissal by Sportsnet on the first episode of the podcast. According to Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun, Don's grandson, Del, will also co-host episodes as Cherry plans on producing a new episode each Monday that can be found on Spotify and other streaming services during the NHL season.

His first episode, however, will be released tomorrow, and it sounds as if Don is already pretty excited about the episode in being able to clear the air over his removal from the first intermission feature known as Coach's Corner.

"But that's not all we talked about," Cherry told Warmington. "We are talking hockey, of course. It's going to be terrific. In this one I am talking about The Rocket, one of the all-time greats."

The Cherry-produced podcast will have none of the restrictions that he found himself operating under as a member of HNiC and Sportsnet, so fans of the outspoken former coach will get everything and more from Cherry as his seven-minute segment can be expanded to as long as Cherry wants. If he wants to rip Quebecois players for wearing visors or if he wants to talk about Swedes playing soft or if he wants to rip any other segment of the population for any reason, there's no one there who will stop him from his rants and diatribes this time.

There's also a chance that this podcast will give Cherry a chance to hone his delivery for other offers that could come his way. While it may be a stretch to assume he'd be back on any TV broadcast regularly, I could see Don getting a regular spot on some radio show where Don talks about one major hockey topic per week from his perspective. He'd likely do well on a SiriusXM program where they have some additional flexibility on what is discussed, but I think this podcast could help his brand find some solid footing after his poor wording one week ago.

Whatever the case may be, those who screamed murder when Don was fired can now find him on their favorite audio streaming service. If you need your fill of Grapes, tune into Spotify tomorrow!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 17 November 2019

The Rundown - Week 7

All eight teams were back in action this weekend - and earlier in the week, in one case - as the Canada West Conference makes its way towards the December break. The top-two teams in the conference were scheduled to meet while a number of other intriguing match-ups that could affect the standings awaited viewers and fans this week. Of course, there were eyes on Manitoba as they looked to snap a program-record scoreless streak as well, so let's find out who did what on this week's edition of The Rundown!

We get to start this week's action on a Thursday with the first portion of the annual Crowchild Classic got underway. Mount Royal started the week one point ahead of Calgary, so the crosstown rivalry was very much alive as both teams had a shot to jump into first-place in the conference with wins this weekend! Kaitlyn Ross got the start for the Cougars in this game while the Dinos responded with their veteran starter in Kelsey Roberts.

The Dinos opened the game with a little jump in their step as they controlled the play early on. Carrying the play seemed to do them well as the Dinos were the first to hit the scoreboard when a puck was dug out of a scrum near the corner, was poked off a Mount Royal defender's stick, and the pinching Paige Michalenko corralled the puck and fired it low past Ross at 9:51 to put Calgary up 1-0! Despite having the Cougars push back through the remaining ten minutes, Calgary would take that one-goal lead to the room along with a 7-5 edge in shots!

Early into the second period, Mount Royal would square things up when Anna Purschke's shot in all sorts of traffic in front of Roberts somehow went up and over the Dinos netminder and into the net at 3:31 to make it 1-1! Minutes later, Calgary's Holly Reuther broke down the left wing and cut across the middle after entering the Cougars' zone where she put a shot high on Ross that the goaltender simply appeared to miss with her glove to make it 2-1 for the Dinos at 8:14! The teams would trade a few more opportunities as the second-half of the period wore down, but it would be Calgary who took another one-goal margin into the intermission, but with the Cougars holding a 17-15 margin in shots!

Early in the third period, Elizabeth Lang picked the pocket of a Cougar in the Calgary zone, chipped the puck past a Mount Royal defender at the blue line, and was off to the races. Delaney Frey joined her as the other Cougars defender dropped back to turn the break into a two-on-one, but Lang would feather a pass across to Frey who cut across the crease and slipped the puck five-hold past a sprawling Ross to make it a 3-1 game for Calgary just 2:16 into the frame! From there, the Dinos went into denial mode as Roberts stoned the Cougars on their remaining opportunities to give the Dinos the 3-1 win! Kelsey Roberts earned her seventh win with a 24-save performance while Kaitlyn Ross suffered her first loss of the season after making just 16 saves.

Highlights of this game are below!

The second-half of the crosstown rivalry took place at Flames Community Arena as the Cougars hosted the Dinos. Mount Royal needed a win to keep pace with the Dinos who had moved into first-place with their win on Thursday. Friday's game could put real separation between the Dinos and the pack, so Calgary came in with a purpose. Kelsey Roberts got her twelfth-straight start for the Dinos while Cassie Shokar was between the pipes for the Cougars.

It was pretty clear early on in this game that Mount Royal wasn't content with the loss the night before as they came out and peppered Roberts with shots. Regardless of what they threw at her, though, Roberts wasn't letting anything by her. At the other end, Shokar was just as good, denying all the chances Mount Royal set up in what was a period where the goalies shone. After one frame, the score remained 0-0, but Mount Royla had an 11-5 advantage in shots.

The second period had the same vibe as the first period as the Cougars continued their assault on Roberts in the offensive zone, but the Calgary netminder was just as good as she was in the first period. That netminding became key midway through the period when Paige Michalenko's long shot from the point deflected off a defender in front of Shokar and past the goalie at 12:20 to give Calgary the 1-0 lead! Despite having a power-play 90 seconds later, the Cougars could get nothing to to twine in this period as the Dinos went to the break with the one-goal lead, but having been outshot 24-10 through 40 minutes.

The third period saw the Dinos crank up their defensive game as they took time and space away against the Cougars throughout the final period. This was effective at limiting chances on Roberts as she faced nowhere near the same barrage as she did through the first period, and that defensive play allowed the Dinos to skate away with the 1-0 victory! Kelsey Roberts was perfect on all 28 shots she faced for her eighth win and second shutout of the season while Cassie Shokar suffered the loss despite stopping 14 of 15 shots sent her way.

Highlights of this game are below!

The Pandas went east to visit the Cougars in Regina as these two teams found themselves starting the weekend a lot closer than anyone may have imagined at this point in the season. Regina could overtake the Pandas in the standings with a pair of wins on home ice while the Pandas needed points to claw their way back into the discussion for top-spot on the conference. Halle Oswald got the start for the Pandas while Jane Kish earned her third-straight start after a pair of wins over Manitoba the week before!

The two goaltenders started this game strong with each making a number of key saves in the first period. Despite a handful of chances seen, both Oswald and Kish would keep the scoresheet clean through one period as the Cougars held a 7-5 edge in shots in the 0-0 game.

The second period started much like the first period did with both netminders continuing their stellar play, but a penalty to Alex Poznikoff six minutes into the frame gave Regina the advantage they needed. On the power-play, McVannel and Magwood played catch up top before Magwood's one-timer from the right face-off circle found its way through traffic and under Oswald thanks to a deflection, and Regina had the 1-0 lead at 7:12! Just 31 seconds later, Rachel O'Toole would send a point shot towards Oswald that Jordan Kulbida deflected past Oswald after setting up in front, and the Cougars had themselves a 2-0 lead! Alberta could muster anything on the power-play they received moments later, and this game would head to the second break with the Cougars up 2-0 on the scoreboard and leading 15-10 in shots!

In the third period, the Pandas brought all the firepower as the Cougars went into a defensive shell to try and preserve the two-goal lead. No matter what the Pandas did on this night, however, the Cougars had an answer for them, and it was often in the form of Jane Kish. At the final horn, the Cougars wrapped up a 2-0 victory over the Pandas! Jane Kish picked up her fourth win and her third-straight shutout with the 21-save blanking while Halle Oswald took the loss after a 14-save effort.

Just for the record, it should be noted that Jane Kish is personally sporting a shutout streak of 193:37 after tonight's shutout of the Pandas. The last time she was scored on was back at 6:23 of the third period against Mount Royal on October 25 when Victoria Byer scored the winner that night.

Highlights of this game are below!

SATURDAY: With the win the night before, Alberta and Regina found themselves separated by one point in the standings, so there was all sorts of intrigue in today's game. Alberta needed to put some space between themselves and Regina for the final playoff spot while Regina looked to bump Alberta into a non-playoff spot with a win. The Pandas turned to Kirsten Chamberlin in this game while the Cougars were riding the hot goalie by starting Jane Kish in her fourth-straight game!

That shutout streak that I mentioned about Jane Kish? It ended quickly on Saturday because there was another player who was all over the scoresheet on this day. Just 2:35 into the game, Autumn MacDougall stripped a Regina defender of the puck at her own blue line and skated in all alone on Kish before wiring a shot high glove-side that found the back of the net for the early Alberta 1-0 lead! Both teams went back to work following the goal as Regina looked for an equalizer, but Chamberlin was on her game. With 13 seconds remaining in the period, Regina was whistled for tripping. After a scramble around the net, Alex Poznikoff threw a pass out front from behind the net, and it was MacDougall standing on the doorstep, whacking it past Kish with one second on the clock to put Alberta up 2-0 through 20 minutes with the power-play marker. Regina, however, took a 6-5 edge in shots into the intermission.

If you're asking, Kish's shutout streak ended at 196:12 of time on MacDougall's first goal - a heck of a run for the Cougars netminder!

The second period felt like an Alberta Pandas frame as they controlled the period from start to finish. What they couldn't do, it seemed, was solve Kish again. That was true until late in the period when Autumn MacDougall picked up a loose puck behind the net and centered it where it went off Kish and into the net behind her at 15:20 to make it a 3-0 game! In a period where Alberta outshot Regina 9-2, that 3-0 lead seemed a lot bigger.

Alberta focused more on playing solid defence in the third period as they kept Regina away from the net and out of danger zones with the puck. While they still had a couple of chances, it was clear that the Pandas were more concerned with closing this game out with a strong finish, and they did just that as they limited Regina to just one shot in the third period en route to the 3-0 victory! Kirsten Chamberlin picked up her third win and first shutout of the season by stopping all nine shots she faced while Kish suffered just her second loss of the season in a 17-save performance.

Highlights of this game are below!

If we're talking about shutout streaks, no one likely knows shutouts better than Manitoba after having been shutout in four-straight games. With the Huskies travelling east to Winnipeg with one of the best netminders in the conference on their side, there was some general fear that Manitoba's streak would be extended further. Saskatchewan, however, has been having their own scoring woes as of late, having scored just four goals in their last three games while going 1-2 in those games. Jessica Vance got the call for Saskatchewan on Friday while Erin Fargey started for the Bisons!

Manitoba started the game going stride for stride with the Huskies, but it was soon evident that Saskatchewan was the more aggressive team in the opening frame. A couple of penalties slowed the Huskies attack, but Manitoba's power-play couldn't seem to find any great chances on Vance. The teams would retire to the dressing rooms for the intermission tied at 0-0 with Saskatchewan doubling Manitoba in shots by a 10-5 margin.

The second period saw the tides turn when it came to the penalty box as Manitoba was whistled for two quick penalties early on that gave Saskatchewan all kinds of momentum. It would be the first power-play, however, where the Huskies would open the scoring when Bailee Bourassa's shot from the left side was stopped by Fargey, but the puck popped up and over the netminder, landing behind her in the blue paint. Leah Bohlken saw the loose puck as she drove the net, and she tapped it across the line for the power-play goal to put Saskatchewan up 1-0 at the 3:37 mark! Saskatchewan simply exerted their will in this period, controlling most of the possession leading to a lot of offensive zone time, but Fargey was solid as she kept Manitoba in this one. After 40 minutes, the Huskies held the one-goal lead despite outshooting the Bisons 22-7!

The third period saw the Huskies continue their strong play through the first-half of the period before the Bisons turned up the tempo with some good neutral zone play and transition attacks. Despite Manitoba's increased pressure, Vance looked cool and calm as she made save after save. With Fargey on the bench late in the game, Manitoba had a number of good chances to tie this game up, but the puck never found its intended destination as Kate Gregoire looked like she had all the room with 20 seconds to play to end the drought, but she partially-fanned on the shot and it settled underneath the sprawling Vance. When the horn sounded, the Huskies picked up the 1-0 victory over the Bisons! Jessica Vance stopped 14 shots for her fourth win and second shutout of the season while Erin Fargey deserved a better fate than a loss after making 29 stops on the night.

Apparently, the Bisons decided not put any highlights up for this game, so you'll have to take my word that everything above happened. What shouldn't be disputed, however, is that the Bisons were shutout again, extending their scoreless streak to 303:57 of time. At some point, something has to hit the twine whether by shot or by fluke, but it seems the snake-bitten Bisons will have to regroup and try again tomorrow.

SATURDAY: Saskatchewan came into Saturday's game looking for the sweep over Manitoba to strengthen their lead over Mount Royal who they jumped in the standings. Manitoba, meanwhile, just needed a goal in order to restore some confidence in themselves. A win would be other-worldly at this point. Regardless of the underlying drama, Camryn Drever was named the starter for Huskies on Saturday while the Bisons called upon fifth-year netminder Amanda Schubert to guard their nets.

This game had a far more physical tone early on that the referees didn't seem top appreciate, so the first period was a parade to both penalty boxes as the teams worked out their anger towards each other in the sin bins. In total, there were seven minor penalties called in the opening frame with five of those going to Manitoba. The good news is that the top penalty-killing unit in Canada West came up big as the Bisons killed off all the power-play opportunities that the Huskies were awarded. The flip side is that the conference's worst power-play didn't help the Bisons' cause either, and we went to the intermission still tied 0-0 with Saskatchewan holding a 7-5 edge in shots.

The second period started the same way the first did as Manitoba was forced to kill off another minor penalty before going on a power-play of their own. No goals were scored, but we would see one midway through the period when Emile Massé skated along the line before dropping the puick to Chloe Snaith who fired the biscuit into a crowd that eluded Drever and found the back of the net at 9:05 to put the Herd up 1-0! THE BISONS SCORED! And they weren't done there as a penalty to the Huskies sent the Bisons out on the power-play where Katie Chatyrbok's centering pass from behind the goal line in the left-wing corner deflected in off a Huskies defender at 15:44 to make it a 2-0 Bisons lead! The early goal seemed to energize the Bisons, and the second one looked like it brought them back to life as they closed out the period with the 2-0 lead and outshooting the Huskies 6-5 in the frame!

The third period opened with Saskatchewan showing some purpose as they looked to get back into the game. They would be rewarded for their efforts early on when Morgan Willoughby's point shot hit a player in front of Schubert as she was sliding in the opposite direction, giving Shyan Elias all sorts of time and space to bury the puck at 4:53 to make it a 2-1 game! The Bisons, though, would not be deterred by that goal as they continued to move their feet and get chances while Saskatchewan did all they could to find an equalizer on Schubert. When the horn sounded, the losing streak and the scoreless streak were both over the Bisons captured victory by the 2-1 score! Amanda Schubert was solid in stopping 20 of 21 shots for her second win of the campaign while Drever took the loss after stopping 13 shots.

Again, no highlight package from the Bisons for the game. Get your act together, Manitoba! And just for the record, that scoreless drought that Manitoba was on ended at 333:02 with Snaith's goal as Manitoba went nearly thirty days without denting twine. Let's hope no team has to go through something that again this season or in any future season!

Perhaps the most intriguing match-up of the weekend occurred in Lethbridge where the Pronghorns, who had flirted with the top spot in the conference all season, met the UBC Thunderbirds who had charged up the standings over the last few weeks to put themselves in a situation where they could not only catch Lethbridge, but pass them as well. First-place was on the line in this meeting between these two teams, and UBC opted for their hot goalie in Tory Micklash to tend the nets while Lethbridge went with their veteran in Alicia Anderson!

The early portion of the period was played fairly evenly before we saw our first goal. Off a defensive zone face-off win that went behind the net, a UBC defender had the puck stripped off her stick by Kianna Dietz who centered the puck, and Tricia Van Vaerenbergh finished off the play by going high over the right shoulder of Micklash at 6:37 to put the Pronghorns up 1-0! However, 30 seconds later, that lead was gone as Ireland Perrott picked up a pass on the right side, skated into the high slot area, and beat Alicia Anderson with a wrist shot to make it a 1-1 game! UBC continued to pressure the Lethbridge defence through the remainder of the period, but chances at both ends were denied as the teams went to the intermission tied 1-1, but with UBC leading 9-5 in shots.

The second period saw Lethbridge start the period strong, but UBC began to rally as the period progressed. Before the midpoint, a Pronghorns clearing attempt was held inside the zone by Mikayla Ogrodniczuk. Emma Hall picked up the loose puck and was tripped, but pushed the puck ahead to a wide-open Chanreet Bassi who made a good fake to freeze Anderson before taking to the forehand and firing the puck past the prone goalie at 7:53 to make it a 2-1 game! 2:50 later with UBC on the power-play, the T-Birds moved the puck well from Hannah Clayton-Carroll to Shay-Lee McConnell to Mathea Fischer who one-timed it past Anderson to give UBC a 3-1 lead! And UBC would add a second power-play goal with 3:38 to play in the period as Hannah Clayton-Carroll beat a Lethbridge defender on the right side and fed Mathea Fischer streaking down the left side who went forehand-backhand for her second goal of the night as the Thunderbirds jumped out to a 4-1 lead! Through 40 minutes, the three-goal lead stood with UBC leading in shots 18-13.

The third period saw UBC and Lethbridge open things up in a big way as both teams looked for more goals. Chances were had at both ends, but both Anderson and Micklash were up to the challenge as they denied all shots in this period. In saying that, the 4-1 score remained intact through to the final horn as UBC earned the victory! Tory Micklash was stellar once more as she denied 22 shots for her seventh win of the season while Alicia Anderson suffered the loss in a 26-save effort.

Highlights are below!

SATURDAY: After dropping the first game of the two-game set, the Pronghorns knew they needed to dig deep to down a formidable opponent who had picked up points in nine-straight games. UBC was looking to keep the good times rolling as they had a shot to claim first-place outright with a win, so they came in focused on the task at hand. Tory Micklash was back between the pipes for UBC while Lethbridge opted for Chloe Marshall as their netminder to try and derail the Thunderbirds.

The only problem? The Thunderbirds were hitting their targets today. Tiffany Chiu scored at 4:29 and Mikayla Ogrodniczuk added a goal at 6:04 as the UBC Thunderbirds jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in this game despite only putting five shots on Marshall in the opening frame. In contrast, Lethbridge fired pucks from every point at Micklash and the UBC defence thanks to a handful of penalties only to come up empty. After one period where the ice was slanted towards the UBC zone, the T-Birds led 2-0 despite being outshot 14-5 in the frame!

The second period saw the game even out a little as the two teams traded chances and shots as the parade to the penalty box disappeared. The goaltenders were both sharp in the period as they kept pucks from getting behind them, and the 2-0 lead that UBC brought into the period was carried into the second intermission with Lethbridge leading 22-15 in shots.

And then the wheels fell off for the Pronghorns in the third period. Hannah Clayton-Carroll scored at 3:34, Ireland Perrott scored on the power-play at 6:20, and Clayton-Caroll book-ended the scoring with her second of the game at 12:30 as a handful of penalties really provided the spark that UBC needed to take over this game. When the final horn sounded, UBC piled up a 5-0 win over the Pronghorns. Tory Micklash picked up her eighth win and fifth shutout of the season with a 27-save blanking of Lethbridge while Chloe Marshall took the loss in a 24-save performance.

Highlights of this one are below!

CWUAA WOMEN'S HOCKEY
School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
British Columbia
7-2-1-2
25 26 23
W6
vs MRU
Calgary
7-4-1-0
23 22 18
W4
vs LET
Lethbridge
6-5-0-1
19 24 27
L3
@ CAL
Saskatchewan
5-4-1-2
19 17 17
L1
vs REG
Mount Royal
6-6-0-0
18 20 15
L2
@ UBC
Alberta
5-6-1-0
17 31 18
W1
vs MAN
Regina
3-7-2-0
13 16 27
L1
@ SAS
Manitoba
3-8-0-1
10 11 22
W1
@ ALB

The Last Word

Let's talk about how good UBC has been in the last eight games because there simply aren't enough people talking about their efforts. There's a reason why they're in first-place, and I alluded to it above as they've picked up points in their last ten games. They don't have a regulation loss since the first week of the season, and a big reason for that is their commitment to taking care of their own zone and the work by Tory Micklash.

Let's just throw out the 14 goals they surrendered in the opening weekend to Alberta. We can't take them off the stats, but we're going to focus on the last ten games because UBC has been the best defensive team by a country mile!

In those ten games, UBC has surrendered just nine goals. They haven't given up two goals since November 1 when they beat Saskatchewan 3-2 in overtime, and haven't given up three goals since October 19 when they lost in a shootout to Regina by a 3-2 score. If we toss out the shootout goal, UBC hasn't given up a three-goal game since the opening weekend, and have only allowed more than one goal in a game three times! This team is addicted to defence right now, and it only helps that their goaltending has been bolstered by Tory Micklash.

Again, pulling the 12 goals off her total that Alberta laid on her, Micklash has surrendered just eight goals in 618:07 of play in those last ten games. If you're doing the math, that's a 0.78 GAA to go along with an incredible .961 save percentage as she's saved 195 of 203 shots in those ten games. With teams averaging just 20 shots per game over that time on Micklash, she's likely to give up just one goal if teams are lucky based on that save percentage. If your goaltender is surrendering just one goal per game, there's a good chance you're winning games. Unless you're Manitoba and mired in a program-record scoring slump.

Through seven weeks last season, Alberta had surrendered just ten goals through 15 games in what was one of the best seasons for goals-against ever put together by any Canada West team. They would finish the season with just 24 goals-against in a 28-game season, so it's likely that UBC won't better that mark, but it should be encouraging to know that if UBC continues to match the pace that Alberta ran at last season, it's very likely UBC will finish in the top spot at season's end just as Alberta did one campaign ago.

The playoffs are a whole different matter, of course, but with UBC playing playoff-like hockey in terms of their defensive effort, one has to believe that they'll be set for a good playoff run. Things might change over the December break as the month off may cool off the T-Birds, but it seems the Thunderbirds are soaring right now thanks to a solid commitment to defence.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!