Saturday, 22 February 2020

Rarefied Ayres

If you don't recognize this goaltender to the left, it's likely due to the fact that you didn't watch any hockey tonight nor were logged into any social media whatsoever. That is David Ayres, the emergency back-up goaltender who was forced into action for the Carolina Hurricanes as they visited the Toronto Maple Leafs after both James Reimer and Petr Mrazek were both felled by injuries in the game. Ayres normally drives the Zamboni ice resurfacing machine for the AHL Toronto Marlies. He occasionally takes a few reps as a practice goalie. He is 42 years and 194 days old as of today. In 2004, he received a kidney in a transplant. And he now has one NHL win in his career!

Ayres' big night hit a pile of milestones. They include:
  • Oldest goaltender to win his NHL debut.
  • Oldest visiting goalie in history to earn a victory in Toronto.
  • First NHL emergency back-up goaltender to record a win.
  • First organ transplant recipient to win an NHL game.

  • First player to make his debut in any of the four major professional sports at age 42 or older since MLB Hall of Famer Satchel Paige made his debut at 42 on July 9, 1948.

  • Second-oldest player in NHL history to make his debut. Only Lester Patrick was older when made his debut at 43 on March 20, 1927.

  • Ayres stopped eight of ten shots he faced against the Maple Leafs in the 6-3 Carolina win.

Not bad, right? Oh, but this got big. Like really big on social media. The hockey community was all over it. People who are casual fans were cheering for Ayres. PGA golfers were tweeting about him. And then the Governor of North Carolina got in on the fun.
I proposed on Twitter that the NHL do the right thing and invite David Ayres and his wife - who was on Twitter and tweeting while her husband was in net! - to the NHL Awards in June where Ayres should present the Vezina Trophy!

What makes this is night a little weird is that this isn't the first brush with the Carolina Hurricanes organization that David Ayres has had. Back on February 1, the AHL's Charlotte Checkers were forced to put Ayres in uniform and on the bench during their game in Toronto against the Marlies after one of their netminders went down with injury. What's even weirder is that both the Hurricanes and Checkers seem to use emergency back-up goalies way more than any other team as we've seen equipment manager Jorge Alves suit up for the Hurricanes and former Manitoba Bisons netminder Byron Spriggs don a Checkers uniform in the past!

Regardless of whatever is going on with the Hurricanes and their goaltending problems, the night ended up pretty well for Ayres as he not only got the win, but was paid $500 - standard for an emergency back-up goaltender - got to keep his #90 Carolina Hurricanes jersey, got a Hockey Night in Canada towel(!), and will likely be the standard that all future emergency back-up goalies will be compared to just as Scott Foster of the Chicago Blackhawks was the standard to which Ayres was being compared.

Honestly, enjoy the stardom, David. You certainly earned it with your performance against the Leafs on hockey's national stage where you can say you beat the Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada. Like you hear any professional hockey player say in retirement, cherish every second you're on the radar because you never know when these opportunities may end. But whatever may happen in the coming days, weeks, and months for you, just keep that smile on your face because it might have been the biggest smile seen in some time once that final horn sounded tonight.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 21 February 2020

The Value Of Grit

The Winnipeg Jets, in their annual trade deadline "grit" acquisition, made an unexpected move today by sending a 2021 conditional fourth-round draft pick to the Vegas Golden Knights for Winnipeg-born centerman Cody Eakin. While the Jets are seemingly always on the look for guys that are "good in the room" and can bring "sandpaper" to the lineup, I don't know if Cody Eakin was even on their radar before today. Nevertheless, the Jets get a third-line centerman to help their efforts in making the playoffs this season for a pick that has a low probability to turning into a bonafide NHL star.

Before I break down the trade, the conditions for the draft pick see the 2021 fourth-round pick upgraded to a 2021 third-round pick if Winnipeg makes the 2019-20 playoffs or if the Jets re-sign Eakin before July 5th, 2020. With the Jets currently sitting in the first wild card position, there's no guarantee they'll make the playoffs at this point, but it seems that general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff isn't worried about either pick in 2021 to make this deal. If the Jets were looking at making any other improvements, that 2021 third-round pick is now off the board being that it has to be available to fulfill the conditions of this trade.

I've seen some people on social media point to Eakin's 22 goals and 19 assists in 2018-19 as a reason for the Jets "fleecing" the Golden Knights on this deal, and I've got to throw up a stop sign there because there are a few significant details that one is overlooking in that season. The first would be some guy named Max Pacioretty and the second would be Alex Tuch. Those were his linemates for nearly 20% of the season in 2018-19, and he amassed a pile of points playing in between those two players. In saying that, those career-year numbers that Eakin put up are more aberrations than norms when it comes to Eakin's scoring prowess.

Can he score? Yes, as proven by the numbers. Can he drive a line on his own? That doesn't appear to be the case.

Instead, the Jets are looking at the underlying numbers as Eakin gives them a second Adam Lowry-like player in that Eakin wins face-offs, blocks shots, and can play physical. Since Lowry's injury, the Jets haven't had a guy that Paul Maurice can roll out to win a key defensive zone face-off like he did with Lowry, so it seems that Eakin will be given that role.

The problem, though, is that Eakin's 49.8% face-off win percentage is better than only Jack Roslovic's 45.0% as all of Nick Shore, Andrew Copp, and Mark Scheifele have better career percentages. In fact, Eakin's 47.4% face-off win percentage this season is the worst of his career, and a full 5% worse than his playoff win percentage totals. Maybe Eakin won't be taking important defensive zone draws unless something changes dramatically over the next couple of weeks?

Ok, so maybe he'll be used on the penalty-killing units where his work in blocking shots will come in handy. As it stands this season, Eakin has 14 blocked which seems to be slightly off his career average of 33 per season, but he trails Andrew Copp (26), Adam Lowry (22), Blake Wheeler (41), Mark Schiefele (44), Jack Roslovic (18), and Nick Shore (17) in blocked shots this season, so it might be hard to justify seeing Eakin on the ice killing penalties when he doesn't do a lot to prevent shots from getting to Hellebuyck compared to the other centermen the Jets have.

This could also be a systemic thing where Gallant wasn't using him in a spot to block shots this season, but that's hard to fathom after he blocked 45 and 35 shots in 2017-18 and 2018-19, respectively. It's fairly clear he has the ability to block shots, so Paul Maurice will be tasked to get Eakin into shooting lanes if this is a skill that the Jets want to exploit. As it stands, however, the rest of the Jets centermen seem to have better results in blocking opposition shots.

With the defensive theories somewhat wrecked, that leaves just physical play as Eakin's one potential quality the Jets may want in the lineup, but even that stretch to put Eakin into the everyday mix seems far-fetched. Eakin's 41 hits rank slightly less than Shore's 50 hits, way behind Gabriel Bourque's 113 hits, and slightly ahead of Logan Shaw's 23 hits. Eakin may be an upgrade over those three players' skill levels on the Jets' fourth line, but the fourth line isn't going out there to be relied upon for goal scoring.

Why would the Jets give up a pick and take another pick off the board for a guy who seemingly makes the Jets no better on the ice than they were before making the deal?

"Cody was someone who really intrigued the coaches from the moment I brought his name up the first time," Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff told reporters. "Cody is the type of guy who just oozes character... tremendous character person, brings guys into the fight."

Where have we heard this before? It seems a player acquired at last year's deadline was one of those "character guys" who was more about experience than on-ice contributions, and would play more fourth-line minutes than anything else. That player was centerman Matt Hendricks. At the time, Maurice said the following about Hendricks: "Are you a person the organization wants other players to follow? Do you have the ability and the skillset that can identify a guy that needs help and reach out, and have the respect of that player? He has all those things here."

While the words used might be different, it seems those two statements made by Cheveldayoff and Maurice share a lot of the same underlying message: "brings guys into the fight", accountability, good in the room. While some will say these intangibles are vitally important to a team, it seems the Jets place an absurdly high value on these traits.

While it's unknown where Eakin will be slotted into the Jets lineup, it seems he may be destined for the same place Hendricks found himself more often than not in centering the fourth line. While Eakin does give the Jets a little flexibility in that he can play both center and on the wing, it might be that Eakin flanks Shore across from Bourque if the Jets want to play more physical, moving Shaw to the press box. Other than that, breaking up any of the top three lines seems unthinkable considering the last few results that the Jets posted, so I'm not sure this move to bring in Eakin adds any sort of tangible improvement overall to the lineup.

At the end of the day, a third-round pick - assuming the Jets hold onto their playoff spot - for a few extra hits out of a fourth-line winger seems like a steep and rather ridiculous price to pay. Welcome to the NHL city where grit is worth its weight in gold.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 20 February 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 387

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back with another jam-packed show full of hockey goodness! There are some guests stopping by, there were some trades made this week, there were some games won and lost this week, and there are some upcoming games for which I'm excited. It's going to be another busy show where we likely won't squeeze everything into the hour we get to chat, but we'll do out best tonight on The Hockey Show!

Jason Pchajek and I are proud to welcome a couple of these players to the studio tonight as a couple of the South Winnipeg Kings Gold Peewee A2 players will stop by for a chat about their efforts to win the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup! Jason and I will welcome Colton and Cole, two of the amazing players who have raised $8000 to help Reese Ketler who was paralyzed in a game earlier this year! Rich Roberts, the team's social media guru, and head coach Darren Pritchard will also join us as we meet these amazing young men and the parents behind these lads who are trying to bring home the final prize of $100,000 to help Reese! We'll find out of they're successful on February 29th live on Hockey Night in Canada!

Here's the video that the South Winnipeg Kings Gold Peewee A2 submitted as their entry into the mix for the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup!

Following our meeting with these upstanding young men, Jason and I will tear through the recent hockey trades seen in the NHL, last week's results and this week's match-ups in both Canada West men's and women's hockey, the Zack Kassian suspension, the Evander Kane suspension, and any other hockey stories we can wedge into the hour-long episode at 5:30pm CT!

Where's the best place can you hear the show if you're outside Winnipeg or not near a radio, 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.

If you have questions, you can email all show queries 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 and Jason meet Colton, Cole, Rich, and Darren from the South Winnipeg Kings Gold Peewee A2 as we hear about their efforts to win some big charity money for Reese Ketler before diving into trades, win, losses, suspensions, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: February 20, 2020: Episode 387
RESOURCES: South Winnipeg Kings Gold Peewee A2 Twitter account, Chevrolet Canada Twitter account, Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup website

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

New Kids On The Block

For those of you who are comic book fans, you probably recognize the guy in the image to the left as Lucas Bishop or, generally, as Bishop. Bishop's timelines seem to intersect with two other Marvel franchises in the X-Men and Spider-Man, but it seems there will be another Bishop whose timeline intersects with the RSEQ institutions next fall thanks to some generous donations by some rather well-known donors. Thanks to their ongoing contributions to Bishop's University in Sherbrooke, Quebec, we'll have a six-team RSEQ for the first time in recent memory! Starting in 2020-21, the Bishop's Gaiters will begin play against the likes of Concordia, Montreal, Ottawa, McGill, and Carleton as they join the RSEQ women's hockey conference!

I can hear some of you asking, "Teebz, what exactly is a 'Gaiter'?", and I'll answer that question below. Instead, let's focus on the U SPORTS women's hockey family growing by a third team after I missed this announcement way back on January 16! Bishop's, along with MacEwan and Trinity Western out in Canada West, make their conferences stronger with their additions, and it's exciting to see the sport grow at the university level!

It needs to be mentioned that without the generous donation from the Molson Family Foundation as well as support from Molson Coors moving forward, this announcement for Bishop's may not have been possible. For those that don't know, the Molsons have had a long and winding history with the university with several Molsons serving as trustees, a handful attending Bishop's University when it was still known as Bishops's College, and having the Fine Arts building named as the "Molson Fine Arts Building" in honour of the sixty years of support given to the institution after the Molson Family Foundation helped fund the construction of the building. Jane and Eric Molson also saw their names adorn the rink at Bishop's University after their contributions to the sports programs at the school.

"To this day the name of the Jane and Eric Molson Arena testifies to the Molson family's unwavering support for Bishop's. For all they have done – and continue to do – for Bishop's University, we owe them our most heartfelt thanks," Bishop's University Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Michael Goldbloom, C.M., stated in January. Their donation to the university to get women's hockey back on the map for Bishop's would need a pretty good "thank you" considering that the school doesn't even have a men's team listed on their official athletics page, so this is a huge step for the Gaiters women's team as they become the lone U SPORTS hockey representative for the school!

"We wanted to make sure we had a viable long-term plan before committing," Bishop’s University Director of Athletics and Recreation Matt McBrine said at time. "Thanks to the Molson Family Foundation, that became possible. We will continue our fundraising efforts, but we can confidently say that we embark on this adventure knowing the program has what it needs to evolve and thrive."

I like that Matt McBrine stated the obvious: it takes some real financial backing to get long-term plans off the ground with scholarship monies, equipment costs, travel costs, and other incidental costs all factoring in at the U SPORTS level of hockey. With three teams in Montreal and two in Ottawa, it's not like they have several provinces of travel like they do in Canada West, but hotel costs and bus rides do add up quickly for a team that will travel to meet their opponents. However, as Mr. McBrine stated, it seems that the long-term plan will work with this endeavour that was funded by the Molson Family Foundation, and there's now another option for girls in and around the southern Ontario and Quebec regions if they want to play U SPORTS hockey.

"I think this is great news," said Gaiters hockey Head Coach Dominic Desmarais. "We have been looking forward to hearing this was going to be the next step and now can focus on the future. I think Bishop's is a great place to attract student-athletes from all over. There is also a lot of talent in the Sherbrooke area that will now have an option to stay closer to home while competing at the U SPORTS level."

As Coach Desmarais stated, this opportunity may entice girls to stay in Canada to play as there have been a handful of good players from Quebec who have crossed the border to the NCAA's Vermont Catamounts including Kristina Shanahan, Hailey Burns, Sara Levesque, Ève-Audrey Picard, and Catamounts' leading scorer Maude Poulin-Labelle. While the NCAA will always entice players who want to play at the highest level, the opportunity to play in a smaller conference at home with the chance to win better than in the NCAA might sell a few girls to remain in La Belle Province as opposed to seeking opportunity elsewhere.

Overall, I'm psyched that the RSEQ is growing because it was always argued that it was far too easy to advance to a national championship when you only had to be better than four other teams. Granted, three of the five RSEQ teams have had strong showing at recent U SPORTS National Championships - including a gold medal for Montreal in 2015-16, a silver medal for McGill last season, and a bronze medal for Montreal last season as well - but if two of the teams in the conference are also-rans, it makes winning one series against better competition that much easier. Adding in Bishop's won't change the dynamics in the conference next season as they break into U SPORTS play, but give them a few years to get in and start the recruiting process to see the conference get stronger.

If the BU Gaiters have one thing going for them already, it's their uniform choices. While purple isn't usually a colour I'd associate with hockey - yes, I know the LA Kings were purple - the Gaiters make it look good with their collegiate look. The name of the school across the stripe feels very university-like, and the BU on the sleeve is a nice addition. The purple-and-white mesh well together when seen on the ice, and I have to say that it's a very clean look with few issues about which one can complain. The team may opt for different uniforms next season to commemorate their first season in the RSEQ, but I'd say they have a pretty sharp wardrobe already.

Speaking of wardrobe, the "Gaiters" name doesn't have anything to do with alligators like the Florida Gators despite Bishop's using a purple alligator as their mascot as seen to the right. Instead, the name "Gaiters" comes from the leg coverings worn by Anglican bishops up until mid-20th century. Basically, they were long socks that stretched from the knee to the top of the foot, often covering the top of the shoe worn by the bishop who, historically, would ride from township to township on horseback. Being that Bishop's University was founded and took direction from the Anglican church until 1947 when it went non-denominational, the athletic teams were named for the gaiters they wore just as the Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago White Sox were named for their choice of hosiery. Pretty cool, right?

It's an exciting time in U SPORTS women's hockey with the growth of the game in Langley, Edmonton, and Sherbrooke. While I still secretly wish for a second team in Manitoba or one in northern Ontario to give Manitoba a natural geographic rival, elevating women's hockey at these three academic institutions makes the game better across this nation. Welcome to U SPORTS women's hockey, Bishop's Gaiters, and we're happy to have you as part of the family!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

D-Day

While D-Day is normally observed on June 6 in memory of the Normandy landings in World War II, it seemed the NHL had its own d-day today as there were a pile of moves made that involved defencemen as the centerpieces of these deals. While I wrote about Trade Deadline Day being a slow day next Monday, I didn't think that it would be as slow as it appears to be with teams making all these moves prior to the big day. Let's go over who moved where in the flurry of deals that happened throughout Tuesday.

In the first deal of the day, the Carolina Hurricanes acquired defenceman Joey Keane from the New York Rangers in exchange for winger Julien Gauthier in a swap of AHL players. In 49 games with the Hartford Wolfpack this season, Keane has eight goals, 22 assists, and 32 PIMs.

As stated above, the New York Rangers acquired right-winger Julien Gauthier from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for defenceman Joey Keane. In 44 games with the Charlotte Checkers this season, Gauthier had 26 goals, 11 assists, and 34 PIMs.

ANALYSIS: I'm not sure why the Hurricanes dealt their leading goal scorer on their AHL club for a defenceman who seems like a handful of defencemen they already have in their lineup, but the Rangers acquire a player who very likely could be playing for them before this season ends.

The Winnipeg Jets acquired defenceman Dylan DeMelo from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a 2020 third-round draft pick. In 49 games with the Senators this season, DeMelo had ten assists and 31 PIMs.

The Ottawa Senators acquired a 2020 third-round draft pick from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for defenceman Dylan DeMelo.

ANALYSIS: I like this acquisition by the Jets as they didn't give up a lot to get a very good defender in his own zone with some offensive upside. I thought Ottawa might get more back for DeMelo, but adding another pick never hurts for a team in full rebuild mode. Winnipeg's third-round pick gives Ottawa seven picks in the first three rounds this summer, and 12 picks in total in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

The Washington Capitals acquired defenceman Brendan Dillon from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2020 second-round draft pick and a conditional 2021 third-round draft pick. In 59 games with the Sharks, Dillon had one goal, 13 assists, and 83 PIMs.

The San Jose Sharks acquired a 2020 second-round draft pick and a conditional 2021 third-round draft pick from the Washington Capitals in exchange for defenceman Brendan Dillon. The 2020 second-round pick originally belonged to Colorado that was dealt to Washington in the Andre Burakovsky deal. The conditions for the 2021 third-round pick are that if the Capitals win the Stanley Cup this season, the pick becomes a 2020 third-round pick that was originally owned by Arizona, dealt to Colorado for Carl Soderberg, and dealt again from Colorado to Washington in the Andre Burakovsky deal.

ANALYSIS: Washington gets the big, solid defencemen they were looking for since Brooks Orpik retired with Dillon being more mobile and having better defensive awareness. San Jose did retain 50% of Dillon's salary, but they got themselves a second second-round pick after not having a first-round pick thanks to the Erik Karlsson deal.

The St. Louis Blues acquired defenceman Marco Scandella from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a 2020 second-round draft pick and a conditional 2021 fourth-round draft pick. In 51 combined games with Buffalo and Montreal, Scandella had four goals, eight assists, and 16 PIMs.

The Montreal Canadiens acquired a 2020 second-round draft pick and a conditional 2021 fourth-round draft pick from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for defenceman Marco Scandella. The conditions for the 2021 fourth-round pick are that if St. Louis re-signs Scandella before October 7, 2020 or if St. Louis wins two playoff rounds AND he plays in at least half of the games, the Canadiens will receive the additional pick. If the conditions are not met, the 2021 fourth-round pick remains the property of the St. Louis Blues.

ANALYSIS: After losing Jay Bouwmeester for an extended period of time, the Blues reacted quickly by acquiring Scandella who should be able to help the Blues in the defensive zone while chipping in a little offence. Despite retaining 50% of Scandella's salary, the acquisition of the second-round pick means that Montreal will have four picks in the first two rounds of the 2020 NHL Entry, including three in the second round, which will go a long way in helping the Canadiens move the rebuild forward.

And while we're here talking about defenders being traded, here's what is reportedly in play tonight between two teams who sound like they'll confirm the trade details tomorrow.

The Vegas Golden Knights are reportedly in the process of acquiring defenceman Alec Martinez from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for two of the five second-round draft picks they hold in 2020 and 2021. There may be more to this trade, but this sounds like the foundation to the deal being made tonight. In 41 games with the Kings this season, Martinez has one goal, seven assist, and 17 PIMs.

The Los Angeles Kings reportedly will acquire two of the five second-round draft picks in the 2020 and 2021 NHL Entry Drafts held by the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for defenceman Alec Martinez. There may be more to this trade, but this sounds like the foundation to the deal being made tonight.

ANALYSIS: With this deal sounding more and more likely as per the NHL Insider community, getting Martinez will really shore up a Vegas defence that has looked shaky at times this season as Martinez is great in his own zone. The Kings will likely retain part of Martinez's salary to make this trade work, and could have as many as nine picks in the first four rounds of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft depending on what picks come back in the deal.

With all these deals going down with a week still to go before Trade Deadline Day, it might be time to cancel the TV extravaganzas being promoted on the sports networks about their hours and hours of coverage. There might be a half-hour of recap needed for those who missed some of the deals this week, but it seems there may be fewer teams in play on Monday when the deadline looms.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 17 February 2020

Don't Book The Day Off

Every year, there's a couple of people that I know who decide to book the day off for the NHL trade deadline extravaganzas on the networks that cover sports. Despite me telling them that there are no blockbusters to be had outside of the last hour when general managers get itchy trigger fingers on last-minute deals, they use a vacation day from work to watch the pundits on the panels discuss each team's needs over eight hours with very little trade movement between those teams. Based on the prices paid for the players acquired in the last week, I suspect this year's respective trade deadline shows will be worse than in previous years.

The acquisition of Jason Zucker by the Penguins will likely take them out of any trade scenarios they may have been in previously. Unless it's a money-for-money deal that comes out of the blue, I'm pretty certain the Penguins are happy with their roster at this time. Being tight against the salary cap ceiling will prevent the Penguins from taking on salary, so we can cross one team off the trade board.

Tampa Bay added a good piece in Blake Coleman, and it's likely that they aren't going to tinker much with the remainder of their roster. They may add a depth piece or two, but I suspect all the usual suspects will remain with an 813 area code phone number.

Toronto is still looking to shore up their blue line, but I doubt anyone is going to throw them a life preserver without some sort of significant return. Tyson Barrie may still get moved, but I imagine he'd have to be part of a package that includes picks and prospects with his impending free agency. With Toronto already having upgraded their goaltending, I expect they'll have to get creative if they want to bring in a Matt Dumba or a defender of his ability.

Finally, with their acquisition of Tyler Toffoli from the Los Angeles Kings today, Vancouver doesn't have a first-round or second-round pick in this summer's draft, so they're now trading players for players. The addition of Tyler Madden in the trade to the Kings takes one of their better prospects off the board as well, so Vancouver might very well be done this year if they hope to make a run in the playoffs.

Over the next week, expect another half-dozen teams to make their intention as either buyer or seller clear based on the results of their games. Teams like Winnipeg, Florida, and Nashville may go from buyers to sellers while teams such as the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, and the Buffalo Sabres will either be all-in on a playoff push or will look to add some picks and future assets by dealing their talent away.

As we've seen in the returns for players headed to playoff teams, it's a seller's market right now as the returns have been very good for those willing to move proven talent. Perhaps that alone will influence a handful of teams in foregoing a wild card position this year for what may be a better playoff spot next season depending on what they can move out and get back. There are teams looking to add for the right price, and there are certainly teams who have talent that can be had for the right price. Whether or not those prices align will be seen, but with some of the bigger trade pieces already off the board it might be a quiet Monday for most of the day.

Take the day off if you like. No one can tell you that taking the Monday off following a weekend is a bad idea. Just don't spend it all day in front of the television holding out hope for a blockbuster deal. You're better off spending the day at work than trading a vacation day for eight hours of inactivity by NHL GMs.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 16 February 2020

The Rundown - Quarterfinals

It's finally here. Playoff hockey got underway this weekend in Canada West women's hockey, and there were two pretty entertaining series to be watched as the four teams in action looked to take one step closer to the U SPORTS National Championship in Charlottetown, PEI. As we discussed on The Hockey Show earlier this week, the statistics pointed to two teams that should advance if the trends all continue in the same direction, but the reason they play the games is because anything can happen in the playoffs, specifically in Canada West hockey where these teams are very familiar with one another. Let's see whose seasons ended and whose will continue on this week's edition of The Rundown!

The fifth-seeded Regina Cougars traveled to Calgary to meet the fourth-seeded Mount Royal Cougars in the all-Cougars series as Mount Royal hosted their first-ever Canada West playoff series in school history. Regina has been one of the better teams in the second-half of the season, but enter the series on a 1-3-1-1 record in their last six games. Mount Royal comes in with a 3-2-1-0 record in their last six games, but they've been very good at home this season and finished the campaign with three-straight wins at Flames Community Arena.

All three games in this series would take place at 2:30pm MT, so the time change might affect both teams in terms of getting quick starts. There were no surprises in the choices made for goaltending in this game as Jane Kish started the game for Regina while Mount Royal opted to start their statistically-superior rookie netminder in Kaitlyn Ross.

The start of this game on Canada West TV was delayed thanks to some technical issues being experienced by the Yare TV crew at Flames Community Arena, but luckily there were no goals scored during the blackout. In fact, there were no goals scored once they got the video feed back up and running as the two netminders and the two teams were very stingy in their own zones when it came to shooting lanes and potential second chances on rebounds. I'll spare you paragraphs on the stalemate, but through 60 minutes of hockey, the teams remained tied at 0-0 with Regina leading 20-17 in shots. How about some free hockey to start the playoffs in the very first women's hockey playoff game at Flames Community Arena?

Overtime saw the two teams trade a few chances, but, as expected from the previous three periods of play, the defensive zones were locked down tightly as both teams knew that the next goal - the first goal - would put one team up in the series and the other into a hole out of which they'd have to dig. The good news? Neither team could find the back of the net. The bad news? We'd get set for another 20 minutes of overtime as this game had a feeling of perhaps creeping into the start of the Mount Royal men's hockey game at 7pm.

The second overtime period started, and Anna Purschke forced a turnover in the Regina zone before reversing it to Nicolette Seper. Seper sent the pass back to Daria O'Neill who one-time the puck towards the net where Jayden Thorpe got a stick on the puck, redirecting it past Kish just 24 seconds into the frame, and the Mount Royal Cougars claimed their second playoff win ever and their first on home ice ever with the 1-0 double-overtime win! Kaitlyn Ross made 22 saves for the Cougars' first playoff shutout in Canada West play while Jane Kish stopped 22 shots before the deflection got by her.

Mount Royal leads the best-of-three series 1-0!

Highlights of this game are below!

Pretty simple storylines in today's game: Mount Royal wins and they advance for the first-time ever in Canada West play to the semifinals while Regina had to win to force a Game Three to keep their season going. Jane Kish was back in the net for Regina after surrendering just one goal the night prior while Kaitlyn Ross was sent back out to the Mount Royal net after pitching the shutout one night before.

The game started like the game went yesterday - tight-checking and very few chances. The period rolled on through the opening eight minutes like this before Tatum Amy's point shot seem to hit someone in front of Jane Kish and deflect past the netminder at 8:13 to put Mount Royal up 1-0! The rest of the period felt like the same hockey as before Amy's goal, and we'd close out the first frame with the Cougars-in-white up over the Cougars-in-green 1-0 despite Regina holding the 7-6 edge in shots.

The teams opened the game up a little more in the second period as the long change led to a handful of chances at either end, but Ross and Kish were going save-for-save in this period. There was very little to report on the one Regina power-play opportunity and on the two Mount Royal power-play chances as the horn sounded with MRU still leading 1-0 and the teams tied 16-16 in shots.

Would you be surprised if I told you the third period looked a lot like any of the five periods played before it? Nursing that 1-0 lead, Mount Royal was far more aware in their defensive zone to prevent good scoring chances by Regina while Regina was certainly transitioning quick out of thei zone to push the play back up the ice to the MRU zone. Kish and Ross were outstanding once again, but Regina was forced to pull Kish for the extra attacker at the 17:03 mark as they needed the goal to keep their season alive. That hope would be smashed 25 seconds later when Morgan Ramsey fired the puck from just outside the Regina blue line into the yawning cage, and Mount Royal advances to the Canada West semifinal round with a 2-0 victory! Kaitlyn Ross made 24 saves to shutout the Cougars in this game and 46 saves in the series to help MRU advance while Jane Kish and her Cougars squad will head home and regroup after the senior netminder stopped 21 of 22 shots she faced.

Mount Royal wins the best-of-three series 2-0!

Highlights of this game are below!

The sixth-seeded UBC Thunderbirds traveled to Saskatoon for their series against the third-seeded Saskatchewan Huskies. UBC struggled down the stretch, going 1-4-0-1 including losing both games against Mount Royal to end the season. Saskatchewan was rolling along before hitting the final few weeks of the season where they gave up a three-goal lead to Manitoba in a loss and traded extra-time wins against Regina, giving them a 3-1-1-1 in the six games leading into the playoffs. Saskatchewan has been good at home while UBC has been dreadful on the road, so the statistics seemed to favour the team in green-and-white as this series opened.

All three games in this series were scheduled for 7:00pm ST, so there should be no weird time issues to deal with in this series. There was zero chance that either team would start a back-up netminder as a "1A" option as UBC had Tory Micklash in their crease while the Huskies went with their ace in Jessica Vance.

Saskatchewan leaned heavily on what they're known for - stout defensive hockey - in the first period as they denied chances in their zone by UBC at all points. UBC, for their part, worked to prevent the speedy Saskatchewan forwards from getting good looks on Micklash. However, Saskatchewan would crack the UBC defence open six minutes in when Holly Angus' shot from the top of the circle was stopped, but Abby Shirley was in the right spot to pot the rebound inside the left post before Micklash could recover to put the Huskies up 1-0 at 6:03! The remainder of the period? Yeah, defensive hockey as Saskatchewan and UBC combined for just six shots over the 14 minutes. At the end of 20 minutes, the 1-0 score would hold with Saskatchewan leading 7-3 in shots.

The second period was all about the power-play as the teams used their respective power-plays to find the back of the net. Saskatchewan would use good puck movement to get Larissa Bohlken an open shot from the high slot, and she ripped the puck high glove-side with the wrist shot past Micklash at 7:40 for the power-play goal and the 2-0 Huskies lead! It seemed the Huskies were in complete control until a late penalty was called on them, sending the T-Birds to the power-play. Mathea Fischer did a great job in controlling the puck before sending a puck through the slot to a wide-open Tiffany Chiu who went shelf in a hurry on Vance for the UBC power-play marker at 17:50 to make it a 2-1 game! After 40 minutes, Saskatchewan's one-goal lead was still holding with the Huskies up 13-11 in shots.

Saskatchewan went into full lock-down mode in the third period, sacrificing offensive chances in order to protect their lead. Unfortunately, Brooklyn Haubrich would be whistled for tripping, and the UBC power-play came back out on the ice looking for the equalizer. It would be the Norwegian playmaker once more as Fischer skated the puck down below the goal line before centering a pass to Hannah Koroll who pinched in off the point and one-timed the pass past Vance into the net at 11:39 to tie the game at 2-2! The "prevent" defence that Saskatchewan played continued through the remaining eight minutes, so we'd need some extra hockey to find a winner in this one! The game moved to sudden-death overtime with the teams tied 2-2 and UBC leading 18-17 in shots.

The teams would trade power-plays early in the overtime period, but it was clear that UBC was feeding off their momentum from the third period as they had better chances than Saskatchewan did. Neither side would find the net on those advantages, but, 1:02 after the Saskatchewan power-play expired, Hannah Clayton-Carroll's shot from the right side was blockered away by Vance only to have Mathea Fischer would bat it out of midair by Fischer on the left side into the back of the net at 9:44 to give the T-Birds the 3-2 overtime victory! I don't know if baseball is big in Norway, but the officials conferred and concluded that Fischer's stick was below the shoulder and crossbar, so UBC wins Game One over the Huskies! Tory Micklash looked solid in her 16-save performance while Jessica Vance stopped 19 shots in a losing effort.

UBC leads the best-of-three series 1-0!

Highlights are below!

There was a pretty elementary understanding of what had to happen in today's game. If UBC won, they'd advance to the Canada West semifinals. If Saskatchewan won, they'd live to play another day as they'd host Game Three. Tory Micklash was back in the net after her win the night before while Jessica Vance was looking to avenge the loss in overtime.

I'm not sure how the highlight package below is as long as it is, but I'm pretty sure it helps when you include 1:03 of routine saves and blocked shots as the Huskies' highlight team put into the video. There were chances, including UBC's lone power-play opportunity, in the first period, but the netminders were content with not allowing pucks to get behind them. After one period, the score remained 0-0 with Saskatchewan up 6-4 in shots.

The second period saw Saskatchewan pepper the UBC net with shots as they came out focused, used two power-play opportunities to get good looks, and their team speed to generate chances. Unfortunately, they didn't generate goals, but they were also good at preventing goals as UBC's late power-play chance in the period saw it go unfulfilled. With two periods in the books, the 0-0 stalemate stood with the Huskies leading 19-11 in shots.

The third period felt like two boxers taking knockout swings at one another as the pace was torrid up and down the ice with pucks hitting their targets, but the goalies were exceptional in denying all chances. With neither side giving an inch and neither willing to concede a goal, we'd head to overtime for the second-straight night as this game would remain 0-0 through 60 minutes of play with the Huskies up 32-21 in the shot department.

Saskatchewan was the more aggressive team in the overtime period as they had a couple of good looks off the stick of Bailee Bourassa, but the Huskies sniper could not find the back of the net. Micklash stood her ground once again in the UBC net just as Jessica Vance did, and we'd find no winner through the first overtime frame. We'd move to a second period with the 0-0 score holding firm as Saskatchewan increased their margin in shots to 37-22.

Thanks to a power-play in the second overtime period, UBC began to build all sorts of offensive momentum as they found ways to get pucks to the net, but they couldn't put a puck past Vance. However, a shot by Mathea Fischer just before the midpoint of the period was deflected by Hannah Clayton-Carroll in front of the net past Vance, and the Thunderbirds would claim the 1-0 double-overtime victory over the Huskies! Tory Micklash was fantastic in her crease, stopping all 38 shots that the Huskies sent her way for the shutout while Jessica Vance suffered her second-straight overtime loss after stopping 28 of 29 shots.

UBC sweeps the series by a 2-0 count!

Highlights of this game are below!

While they technically aren't standings, here are how the semifinals will play out between the final four teams.

The Last Word

After UBC's shocking two-game sweep of the Huskies, there are a few things we do know regarding Canada West. It should be noted, before moving on, that overtime is the great equalizer in all series as stats go out the window. As we saw, pucks on net helped both Mount Royal and UBC find victories in the playoffs!

First off, there will definitely be a Calgary-based team going to PEI for Nationals as one of the Dinos or Cougars will emerge as a Canada West finalist this season. The steps that Mount Royal have taken in recent years has been remarkable, from making the playoffs for the first-time ever against Manitoba to winning their first playoff game last season against Saskatchewan to hosting and winning a playoff series this year. As Mount Royal continues to write their impressive history game by game, it's hard not to cheer for the Cougars in what seems like a story that has all the makings for a fairy-tale ending if they can get by the Dinos. Could they win their first-ever Canada West Championship? We'll find out if the hockey gods are with them next weekend!

The Dinos, meanwhile, find themselves in an unusual, yet well-earned, position this season after missing the playoffs for a number of years. Their second-seeding gave them a week to prepare and heal up some bumps and bruises for whomever would be their semifinals opponent, but I'm not certain they were expecting the Cougars. Nonetheless, the all-Calgary semifinal will be exciting and fun to watch with the Dinos holding a 3-0-1 record against the Cougars this season, and we might see the Dinos back at Nationals for the first time since 2015-16 when they hosted the championship. Of course, earning their way would be better considering that when they did go deservingly, they won a silver medal at the U SPORTS National Championship back in 2012-13 following a gold-medal performance at the 2011-12 National Championship. If the Dinos do win the Canada West title, it would be just their second CanWest championship in school history - hard to believe considering the talent they've had!

In the other series, it seems like the Pandas are always there, but they have a chance to win their 14th Canada West title if they can advance past UBC. After finishing a disappointing fourth-place at last year's U SPORTS National Championship, the Pandas have a chance to return to the scene of the crime and finish off some unfinished business they have in PEI. Alberta won their eighth U SPORTS Championship back in 2016-17, and have played in two of the last three National Championships. They're accustomed to winning, and I imagine that the senior players on the Pandas will want to end their careers in Canada West, if not in U SPORTS, on a winning note. They're the team to beat as the top-seeded team in Canada West, so expect the three remaining teams to vie for a shot at knocking them off the top of the mountain.

Standing in Alberta's way are the UBC Thunderbirds who, unfortunately, haven't been much of a roadblock as they'd like. In the four games against Alberta this season, the T-Birds have been shutout three times and have scored just one goal - that happened back on October 4, 2019 in the first game of the season. That being said, the Thunderbirds looked like a much better defensive squad against the Huskies, so this series might raise eyebrows if UBC can find some offence while minding their own zone. UBC is seeking their fourth Canada West title in school history, and are looking for their first berth at Nationals since 2016-17 where they finished with the bronze medal following a silver-medal finish in 2015-16. It should be noted that a sixth-seeded team has never advanced to the National Championship from Canada West without being the host team, so UBC has a chance to write a little history if they can get by the Pandas.

All of the action in the semifinals starts Friday, and you can catch the games on Canada West TV. Four teams remain. Two will move forward and qualify as the Canada West representatives at the U SPORTS National Championship with one of the Calgary-based teams being one of those two teams. We'll see how everything plays out next week on The Rundown!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Coda To The Semifinals

For those who are musically-inclined, a coda is an important passage of music that generally brings a musical piece or composition to an end. Codas are still used in music today, and often are used as vitally-important pieces of the music such as one hears at the conclusion of Hey Jude by The Beatles - yes, the "Na-na-na-na hey Jude" ending of the song. Tonight in Calgary, there was an ending written as Coda Gordon powered by Calgary Dinos over the Manitoba Bisons in both quarterfinal games to end the Bisons' season while moving the Dinos into the semifinals against the Saskatchewan Huskies.

Friday night's game saw the Dinos jump out to a 4-0 lead in the first period en route to a 6-2 victory as Gordon had assists on the first, fourth, and fifth goals that the Dinos scored. Allowing four goals in the first period is a tough hole for any team to dig out of in most cases, and the Bisons put themselves in a 1-0 series hole by allowing the Dinos - powered by Gordon's three-point night - to run roughshod all over them.

Entering Saturday's game, it was expected that the Bisons would watch some video and correct their mistakes, but Gordon's magical weekend continued as he intercepted a pass in the offensive zone while shorthanded and ripped a shot past Bisons netminder Riley Lamb. Honestly, the Bisons didn't need to gift-wrap a goal like they did for Gordon, but credit Gordon with finding twine after the Bisons' defender went tape-to-tape with Gordon on a pass that no defenceman should ever make.

Gordon would strike again in the second period with the game tied at 1-1 when he found some room in a goalmouth scramble to fly in on the right side and bat the puck out of midair past a sprawled Lamb off a great initial shot by Dallas Hines, putting the Dinos up 2-1. Again, Gordon deserves credit for not hanging back and playing conservatively as his crashing the net resulted in a goal. Going to the net is never the wrong choice, and Gordon picked up his second goal of the night to put the Dinos ahead once more.

While he didn't know it at the time, that goal would ultimately be the game-winning goal as the Dinos closed out this game with some solid defending in the third period to go along with a couple of timely saves from Matt Greenfield to give the Dinos the win as they took the series by a 2-0 count, moving them into the semifinals against the Saskatchewan Huskies.

For those that aren't aware, Coda Gordon was drafted by the Calgary Flames back in 2012 as the 165th-overall pick. After five solid seasons with the WHL's Swift Current Broncos where he posted three seasons of 25-or-more goals and 59-or-more points, the Flames used their sixth-round pick on Gordon as they appeared to like his size - 6'2" and 200 pounds - and skill.

Gordon, however, didn't fit into their immediate plans as they failed to sign the Cochrane, Alberta native, and he re-entered the NHL Entry Draft in 2014 as a 19 year-old player. The one knock on Gordon was his lack of speed and acceleration from a stop, and it was something he worked on diligently while with the Broncos. Unfortunately for Coda Gordon, the Flames made changes, opted not to sign him, and he went back into the draft where he was not selected, making him a free agent.

In 2015, Gordon opted to take the WHL Scholarship opportunity and enrolled at the University of Calgary where he joined the Dinos men's hockey team. While has hasn't been a dominant scorer at the Canada West level, it seems that he saves his best for last - like a musical coda - while playing hockey. In 2016, he scored a pair of goals against the Regina Cougars to help the Dinos sweep the Cougars, he had a goal in Game Two and an assist on the Game Three game-winning goal as the Dinos rallied to beat the Thunderbirds in 2018, and he had five points against the Bisons in two games this season. Clearly, the former Flames prospect knows when to step up his game.

Thanks to Coda Gordon's play this weekend, the Bisons will regroup and retool for next season as their season comes to a close. The Dinos will enter next weekend's semifinal as an underdog against the Huskies after they put together another incredible season, but I expect the Dinos not to quietly into the night. I don't know if Coda Gordon will have the same impact against the Huskies as he did against the Bisons, but I do expect him to have a role in those games.

If this series is going to be his swan song in Canada West hockey, Coda Gordon has composed a very impressive university hockey career.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 14 February 2020

Not Enough

I already had little respect for Zack Kassian, but his effort to change his game from thug to legitimate hockey player had him moving in the right direction on my respect scale. As the old saying goes, "A leopard cannot change its spots," and it seems that it holds true for Kassian as he committed one of the worst infractions one can undertake when he kicked Tampa Bay's Erik Cernak in the chest with his skate last night! I have no idea what would possess Kassian to even have the thought of doing this to another player, but he would have a rendez-vous with the Department of Player Safety today.

First, let's look at what Kassian did in case you haven't seen his idiocy.
Kassian's use of his skate to push Cernak off Josh Archibald is dangerous due to those metal blades on the bottom of the skate. Again, it's hard to believe that Kassian would even consider this option to move Cernak, but apparently the synapses in his brain must fire differently than mine because I'm pretty sure it was ingrained in me at a very young age one never uses one's skates on an opponent for any reason due to the potential danger of the blades.

The NHL offered Kassian an in-person meeting today to discuss the incident, but Kassian waived that option and took the phone call instead. After some back and forth between the two sides, the ruling was handed down with Kassian getting a seven-game suspension for his stupidity in using his skate to clear Cernak off Archibald. In my view, this is not enough of a suspension for what Kassian did.
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We've seen some rather horrific moments in the NHL when it comes to skates making contact where they shouldn't: Clint Malarchuk, Richard Zednik, Ilya Mikheyev earlier this season, and Erik Karlsson's Achilles tendon. Skate blades are dangerous at most times, but NHL players normally want their blades razor-sharp for game action which is why Zack Kassian's move last night was so incredibly stupid. The fact that the skate blade came as close as it did to bare skin on Cernak is all the reason more for this suspension to be a double-digit break in games for the Oilers' forward.

Kassian told Mark Spector in the post-game scrum, "He was holding my leg, it was reactionary, I was just trying to get him off me, kick him off me," and that just illustrates the problem of the disconnect that Kassian when it comes to his actions and the consequences of those actions. Had his skate blade cut Cernak in any way, the suspension would have been much worse. Thankfully, that didn't happen and Cernak is no worse for wear, but the fact that Kassian's first reaction was to use his skate to push Cernak off his leg and Archibald is why he should have received a harsher sentence.

Some will say that seven games IS a harsh sentence, and you'd be right if this was Kassian's first brush with NHL law. Except it's not, and this is where the NHL needs to send a message in that the "reactionary" move that Kassian to having his leg allegedly held is not only wrong, but absolutely will never happen again so we never have another Malarchuk incident or Zednik incident where skate blades cut through flesh accidentally and inadvertently.

It was never Kassian's intent to injure Cernak, and that part is clear. However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and this is one road that should never see any traffic on it because one's immediate reaction to having his leg held is to put a skate blade into the chest of an opponent and push him off. A long suspension would send the message to all players - Kassian included - that this type of dangerous behavior will not only be punished heavily for one's reckless reactionary choice, but will be the new standard for anyone who decides to use a skate blade towards an opponent for any reason.

Use your head, Kassian. Don't use your skates.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 13 February 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 386

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is proud to join airwaves on World Radio Day! If you weren't aware, radio remains the most widely consumed medium across the planet, and we at UMFM are proud to be a highly-diverse, unique radio station that offers all sorts of high-quality programming morning, noon, and night! Tonight, on the program, we'll get into some great radio as we have all sorts of stuff to discuss from the hockey world as playoffs are about to start for six men's teams and six women's teams across western Canada! We'll dig into everything tonight on The Hockey Show!

Jason Pchajek and I will go through the Canada West playoff scenarios for both the men and women as the playoffs get started this weekend at three schools! We'll talk to a member of the Mount Royal Cougars women's hockey team as they made a little history in hosting their first-ever playoff series in Canada West as they'll play the Regina Cougars in their best-of-three series, and we'll hear about her amazing season, the team's success this year, and what this home playoff series means to her. We'll also talk about JR's dismissal, the incident surrounding Jay Bouwmeester, the trades made for both Jack Campbell (we missed it last week) and Jason Zucker, and the extension of Paul Maurice in Winnipeg. It's another busy show tonight, so make sure you join us at 5:30pm on 101.5 FM or on UMFM.com!

Where's the best place can you hear the show if you're outside Winnipeg or not near a radio, 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.

If you have questions, you can email all show queries 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 and Jason discuss Canada West quarterfinal series in both men's and women's hockey, firings, extensions, life-saving efforts, moving to new cities, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: February 13, 2020: Episode 386

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Point Of No Return

We've seen a number of hockey personalities held to better standards recently as previously-held views and poorly-chosen words by outspoken individuals have cost those individuals money and jobs. Recognition of these ill-informed statements and the subsequent apology for the words spoken is usually the right way to handle these situations, but occasionally we'll find someone who forgets to think before speaking and then doubles down on mistake by claiming innocence. Today, NBC corrected the statement made by NHL analyst Jeremy Roenick by dismissing Roenick from his position.

Back on December 23, 2019, I wrote about Roenick being suspended indefinitely by NBC after he made some rather crude remarks about his colleague, Kathryn Tappen. In that article, I stated,
"I don't know if Jeremy Roenick returns to his job working alongside Kathryn Tappen after objectifying her in the way he did. And while NBC has done the right thing in keeping Roenick away from the NBC Sports studios, it might be time to send a clear message to the rest of the on-air and off-air employees that this sort of garbage won't be tolerated. It might be time to fire Jeremy Roenick."
It seems that NBC made the decision today to hold Roenick accountable for his words, and they fired him from the network.

Roenick took to social media to express his dissatisfaction with the dismissal, stating in a video posted to Twitter, "I'm very disappointed and angry today. I will not be returning to NBC. Though disappointed, I'm also grateful that I've had the opportunity to share my love, passion, my knowledge of the game with millions of people, millions of fans. And for that, I thank you."

People can point to NBC's reaction over all of this and claim that they're participating in "cancel culture," but Hemal Jhaveri is entirely right in her article on USA Today's For The Win where she writes,
"NBC severing ties with Roenick isn't about 'cancel culture' coming after a tv personality, but rather about holding someone to a minimum professional standard. If there's a baseline for workplace conduct, it should be that you can't sexually harass your co-workers. Even among friends, there are lines that shouldn't be crossed."
With the way that society swings to extremes, Miss Jhaveri's comments are the sobering reality that comes with being a professional. If I were to talk like that about my co-workers at my day job or colleagues when working for the Bisons, I would face some serious repercussions for my remarks. There are no exceptions to this - words have meaning, and actions have consequences. If I fail to use my brain before speaking, I'm liable for the consequences those words bring.

I've seen some cite that Roenick's freedom of speech was being violated, but the freedom of speech does not guarantee freedom from consequences. Yousef Munayyer worked to define this in The New York Times on January 10, 2015 when he wrote,
"Should writers and artists be able to express themselves in any way they choose even if it is provocative and offensive? Sure, but they should also expect that provocative expressions will provoke and what exactly it provokes is impossible to know."
The problem is that Jeremy Roenick had to have known that his story was provocative, if not shocking, for most people, and he was seeking a reaction. While NBC's and Kathryn Tappen's respective reactions were likely not what he was seeking in telling his story publicly, they provoked a response from each of them nonetheless. Just because it wasn't Roenick's desired response doesn't make those response invalid or wrong.

With Roenick not recognizing that what he said was wrong in the eyes of both NBC and Tappen, his failure to apologize for telling the story on the Spittin' Chiclets podcast left NBC with very few options, and the option to fire him from the network is a consequence for him choosing not to apologize and make amends for his poor choice of stories to tell.

If Jeremy Roenick wants to be "disappointed and angry," he only has one person to be disappointed with and angry with, and it's the guy who stares back at him when facing a mirror. At the end of the day, his poor choices from the moment he told the story to his failure to recognize the humiliation that Tappen may have felt to failing to apologize for his humiliating his colleague and friend left NBC with the choice they made today.

You can be unhappy that Jeremy Roenick won't be analyzing games for NBC any longer. If you found him entertaining and informative, there's nothing wrong with that side of Jeremy Roenick. However, we shouldn't let anyone get away with humiliating someone publicly for the sake of entertainment as Roenick did.

Welcome to the real world, JR.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Scary Incident On The Ice

I was preparing a story all about the Winnipeg Jets and how they seem to play up or down to their competition, but a more serious incident overrides any sort of opinion piece I am writing. We've seen serious moments in the game surrounding the health of players in the past, but tonight's incident was scary considering the context. St. Louis Blues defender Jay Bouwmeester had just finished his shift on the ice when he returned to the bench and collapsed beside teammate Vince Dunn. It's at this point where I held my breath.

Jay Bouwmeester is a 17-year veteran of the NHL who has been the epitome of the word "professional" since he was drafted third-overall in 2002 by the Florida Panthers. He's a two-time NHL All-Star, he's an Olympic gold medalist, he's a Stanley Cup champion, and, for a few tense moments in Anaheim tonight, it appeared that Jay Bouwmeester's life was in serious peril tonight in Anaheim.

Here's the video of Bouwmeester collapsing on the bench.

Thanks to the quick actions and reactions of the St. Louis Blues' trainers and the Anaheim Ducks' full training staff, Jay Bouwmeester was reportedly conscious and responsive when paramedics got him into the ambulance for transport to UC-Irvine Hospital for a full examination and treatment. The trainers and/or paramedics reportedly did use the defibrillator on Bouwmeester, but it's pretty clear that the training staffs from both teams deserve a ton of credit in preventing any catastrophe tonight with the speed of their reaction, the quick thinking they employed, and the teamwork they showed when it came to saving Bouwmeester's life.

Immediately, the first thing that goes through one's mind when seeing this are Rich Peverley and Jiri Fischer whose careers were ended after they collapsed during NHL games, and this is something that will likely weigh on Jay Bouwmeester's mind. There's a lot that he's accomplished in the game already, so stepping away from the game in order to protect his health will be an option for him if and when he recovers from whatever caused this incident. My hope is that Bouwmeester, who has a wife and three children, will put health and family ahead of stretching out an already-impressive career for one last chance at glory.

As for the game, the Ducks and Blues agreed to postpone it with the game being made up at a future date. Honestly, this is the only decision that makes sense after seeing Bouwmeester fall tonight, and I'm glad that the teams put the health and safety of Bouwmeester ahead of a meaningless game in February.

Get well soon, Jay Bouwmeester. My thoughts and prayers are with you tonight.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

**UPDATE ON WEDNESDAY: In the press conference held by St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, Armstrong confirmed that Bouwmeester suffered cardiac arrest last night. While his prognosis is good for a full recovery, the doctors and medical staff as UC-Irvine Medical Center are holding him for testing and observation. This is very good news for Jay Bouwmeester, and I'm glad to hear he's doing well after a very scary situation.**

Monday, 10 February 2020

Zucker-burgh

After repeated attempts to pry the player away from the Minnesota Wild, the Pittsburgh Penguins can finally claim they've been Zucker-burghed as the Penguins acquired 28 year-old Jaosn Zucker from the Wild in exchange for underperforming Alex Galchenyuk, prospect defenceman Calen Addison, and a conditional 2020 first-round draft pick. After offering up Phil Kessel in the summer, it seems odd that the player the Penguins got in return for Kessel's move to Arizona - Galchenyuk - is the player going to Minnesota, so I guess Pittsburgh got what they wanted in the end for the same asset they were willing to trade months ago. In any case, expect the Penguins to be better with Zucker on the wing than they were with Galchenyuk to this point.

The conditional pick could see the 2020 pick become a 2021 pick if the Penguins were to miss the playoffs, but that scenario seems highly unlikely considering the Penguins' current standing and the addition of a player who will contribute to the overall success of the team. While the salary exchange between the two teams was nearly equal, the Wild will get the freedom that comes with Galchenuyk's expiring contract after this season, freeing up $4.9 million in cap space annually. Zucker, comparably, has three more years at $5.5 million that the Penguins will need to add into their plans moving forward.

Perhaps more important than the cap space for the Wild are the other pieces as they add a first-round pick to the mix this season while acquiring the Penguins' second-round pick from last season in highly-touted defenceman Calen Addison. Addison was a solid player at the 2020 World Junior Championship this season where he had nine points in seven games with Team Canada, and his work on the Lethbridge Hurricanes' blue line has been exceptionally good with ten goals and 33 assists in 39 games thus far. For a team that has discussed the possibility of moving Matt Dumba, Addison might be the player who could replace Dumba's offensive capabilities in the Wild lineup if he is moved.

While the future looks bright for the Wild in what they reaped in return for Zucker, it seems the Penguins are going to squeeze every last drop of compete out of their aging core in one or two more playoff runs. Crosby, Malkin, Letang, and, when he returns from injury, Guentzel should be helped by the speed and scoring that Zucker has shown in the past. He goes into high-traffic areas, and his defensive awareness is fairly high. All in all, getting Zucker after chasing after him for months finally feels like closure after the Wild flirted with trading him to the Penguins for a while. General manager Jim Rutherford finally got his man, and we'll see how Zucker fares in the Steel City alongside some very competent and skilled centermen.

Among one of the intangibles that comes with acquiring Zucker is the acquisition of his amazing wife, Carly, who gave her time to so many community and charitable causes in and around St. Paul. Carly and Jason were heavily involved in a lot of Minnesota Wild initiatives, and I suspect they'll continue on with those efforts as a part of the Penguins organization as they look to endear themselves to the fans in their new city. While there may some details to work out before Carly can officially move to Pittsburgh, I would suspect she'll be making an impact alongside Jason in the Pittsburgh community sooner than later. Getting Carly as part of the trade only makes the Penguins better off the ice as much as it does on it.

If one was grading this trade in terms of a winner and loser, I'm not sure there is a loser here as the Wild are looking to retool their roster and need to shed cap hits and get younger to do so while Pittsburgh is still in win-now mode and believes that Zucker is a piece that will help them achieve that. If both teams are happy with the return they received and both seem to have achieved what they desired in making the trade, wouldn't both teams be considered winners based on what they were seeking?

As a fan of the Penguins, I'm not excited about giving up Addison, but Jason Zucker is an intriguing piece who is signed long-term and will help the team. The jury will be out on whether this is a good trade, a bad trade, or a steal for the Penguins based on the results over the next year or two, but I like the deal as a fan and I'm excited to see what Zucker can do in the 'Burgh.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 9 February 2020

The Rundown - Week 15

The six teams who will take part in the Canada West playoffs were already known, but who finished where was still up in the air. Alberta, Calgary, and Saskatchewan were battling for the top-three spots in the conference with the teams who finished ahead of the other earning first-round byes. Regina, Mount Royal, and UBC were trying to decide which team wanted to host one of the other two while the third team would travel to meet either Calgary or Saskatchewan. Lethbridge and Manitoba were playing the roles of spoiler this week as they cannot make the playoffs. Let's see who finished where as we get set for the Canada West playoffs on The Rundown!

Calgary had a shot at first-place overall in the conference with two regulation wins over Lethbridge this weekend, but they needed some help from Manitoba as well. Otherwise, they had to match whatever Saskatchewan did in order to stay one point ahead of the Huskies. Lethbridge, meanwhile, was looking to finish strong while derailing Calgary's plans at a first-round bye. Kelsey Roberts got the start for Calgary while Alicia Anderson was in net for the Pronghorns.

This game started with great pace as the two teams went up and down the ice looking for chances. Luckily for the goalies, the defences came to play, limiting shots to initial chances without rebounds on most of the rushes. We'd see our first goal late in the period as Annaliese Meier won a puck battle along the left half-bounds, chipping the puck forward where Chelsea Court picked it up. She circled the net looking for a centering pass, spotting Brooke Dennett after a bad switch by the Pronghorns defenders, and Dennett wristed the puck glove-side past Anderson at 17:02 to put Calgary up 1-0! 1:52 later with Lethbridge on the power-play, Mila Verbicky tried to set up Alli Borrow in front of the Calgary net, but the puck went off a defender to the far side where Madison Porter streaked in and chipped the puck past Roberts to make it 1-1! We'd go to the break with that score intact and Calgary holding an 8-7 margin in shots.

Early in the second period, Calgary would use a power-play of their own to regain the lead. A puck battle along the half-boards on the right side was won by Lethbridge, but the scrum saw the puck pop loose to Trechelle Bunn who used a defender as a screen as she tore a shot through her check's legs and high on Anderson's glove side for the power-play marker at 2:22 and the 2-1 Dinos lead! Calgary continued to pour on the offence throughout this period as they took over, but Anderson was just as good as she did her part in preventing the Pronghorns from pulling away in this game. The few shots that Kelsey Roberts did face didn't cause any harm for the Dinos, and we'd go into the intermissions with Calgary leading 2-1 on the scoreboard and 23-12 in shots.

The third period saw the Pronghorns come to life once more as they were looking to ruin Calgary's night, but the early chances they had were denied by Roberts. Those saves proud fortuitous when a Lethbridge clearing attempt was stopped at the line by Dana Wood who got the puck to Taylor Beck, and Beck fed Sara Craven in the left face-off circle who cut to the middle and backhanded a shot high over Anderson's glove as the netminder went down to make it 3-1 at 8:04! With three minutes left in the game and Calgary on the power-play, Craven's point shot was stopped by Anderson, but Sage Desjardins fought through a check out front to chip the rebound high glove-side on Anderson to make it 4-1 with 2:52 to play as the Dinos seemed to have the book on Anderson by scoring four times on her glove side. When the final horn sounded in Lethbridge, the Dinos were halfway to their goal with the 4-1 win. Kelsey Roberts stopped 19 shots for her 15th win of the season while Anderson absorbed the loss despite making 29 saves.

Highlights of this game are below!

The series would revert to Calgary for the final game of the regular season for both teams. Calgary still needed a win in their effort to catch Alberta, and six points would prevent Saskatchewan from catching the Dinos. Lethbridge was looking to spoil the party once more. Alicia Anderson would make her final start in Canada West play for Lethbridge while Calgary went with Kelsey Roberts as they needed the victory.

The first period saw the teams trade chances, but neither would find twine with pucks sent towards the net. Lethbridge did direct more pucks on the Calgary net than Calgary did on Lethbridge's net, but Roberts was good on a couple of great chances to keep this game tied at 0-0 through one period of play with the Pronghorns up 8-5 in shots.

The second period would see the Dinos come to life as they began to pepper Anderson with shots. However, Eryn Johansen would carry the puck down the right wing and cut to the net where Roberts stopped her drive to the front of the net. Madison Porter whacked at the rebound that Roberts couldn't cover, and Kianna Dietz would finally poke it by Roberts on the third attempt at 6:20 to put the Pronghorns up 1-0! 1:45 later, though, we'd find this game tied once again Elizabeth Lang was the recipient of a backdoor pass from Chelsea Court on the power-play, and Lang made no mistake in burying the puck into the undefended left side of the net to tie the game at 1-1! Calgary wouldn't let up for the remainder of the period, but Anderson was outstanding in keeping this game tied. At the end of 40 minutes, the 1-1 score would hold, but Calgary owned a 21-11 advantage in shots.

The third period saw that Calgary momentum continue as they continued to pound the Lethbridge net with shots. Four minutes into the period, Erin Armstrong's shot from the point went wide on the right side, but the carom came out to Sage Desjardins on the left side, and she sniped a shot under Anderson as she slid across and couldn't close the five-hole at 4:33 to put the Dinos up 2-1! With the onslaught continuing on Anderson, Lethbridge was trying to find an equalizer, but it simply wasn't going to happen with how aggressive the Dinos were on this night. With 51 seconds remaining, Taylor Beck flipped a backhander over a diving Pronghorns defender into the empty net to ice the game at 3-1 as Calgary earned the three points from the Pronghorns. Kelsey Roberts picked up hr 16th win of the season after making 14 saves while Alicia Anderson would lose her final game despite deserving a better fate in her 32-save performance.

Highlights of this game are below!

There was one storyline in this series as Alberta simply needed one point against the last-place Bisons to clinch first-place and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. After hammering the Bisons at Clare Drake Arena earlier this season, there was hope the Bisons could slow up the Pandas on their way to the playoffs. Halle Oswald was in the Pandas' net to get this game started while Erin Fargey was handed the assignment for the Bisons.

It didn't take long for the Bisons to find their skating legs as they came out and pressured the Pandas early in this game. That would pay off when Halle Edwards checked a Pandas defender, allowing Jordy Zacharias to pick up the loose puck in the slot, pass it to Kate Gregoire, and Gregoire slid her shot under Oswald at 3:08 to put the Bisons up 1-0! This period went by pretty quickly with few stoppages, no penalties, and just the one reset at center ice as the Bisons made their way into the intermission with the one-goal lead and the shots sitting at six apiece.

The second period saw Manitoba to continue to press the Pandas, but the Pandas would use their top-ranked power-play to pull even. Midway through the frame, Madison Willan hit Autumn MacDougall with a pass, and MacDougall made a great cross-ice pass to Kennedy Ganser who was on the backdoor, allowing Ganser to chip the puck past Fargey who couldn't get across fast enough as the Pandas pulled even at 1-1 at 12:13! The goal, however, didn't deter the Bisons as they stuck to their game plan in keeping the pressure on the Pandas. While it wouldn't result in any further goals in the second period, the Bisons had to be happy to be tied 1-1 with the Pandas through 40 minutes with the Pandas leading 18-15 in shots.

Manitoba continued to serve up pressure on the Pandas as the plan seemed to be working, and this up-tempo game helped them set up their second goal at the period's midpoint. Chloe Snaith sent the puck out of the Manitoba zone to Jordy Zacharias after Manitoba gained possession in their own zone, and Zacharias left Kiara Machry in her rearview mirror as she sped down the ice on a 2-on-1 with Kate Gregoire. The remaining defender tried to play Zacharias, but she sent the pass across to Gregoire who fired a puck inside the near post that Oswald had vacated as she slid across, and the Bisons were up 2-1 at the 10:00 mark! The Pandas would turn the heat up on the Bisons for the next few minutes, but Jordy Zacharias would find some room as the Pandas retreated to dump the puck from the blue line into the empty net that Oswald had vacated to make it 3-1. A late power-play goal by Ganser off a nifty pass from Willan with 41 seconds remaining made it a 3-2 game, but the Pandas could not find the equalizer after that as the Manitoba Bisons shock the fifth-ranked team in the nation in the Alberta Pandas with the 3-2 final! Erin Fargey was solid in her 24-save performance to pick up her sixth win of the campaign while Halle Oswald stopped 23 shots in the loss.

Highlights of this one are below!

SATURDAY: There had been rumours that had the Pandas won on Friday, Sydney McCluskey was going to start on Saturday. However, with the Pandas still needing that all-important one point, head coach Howie Draper opted for his ace in today's game. With it being her last game, the Bisons went with their graduating goaltender in their crease as this game only mattered for that single point. In saying that, Kirsten Chamberlin got the start for the Pandas while Amanda Schubert got her final start at the Canada West level in today's game.

While the Bisons appeared to start this game with the same plan as the night before, it was clear that whatever coach Draper had said to his squad put them in a business-like attitude as they not only matched Manitoba's pace, but had them back on their heels at times. An early power-play saw that lethal player-advantage unit step onto the ice and strike once more as Danielle Hardy's initial shot was stopped by Schubert, but the rebound came out to the slot area as Schubert lost sight of it, allowing Abby Benning to bank the puck in off Schubert's pad as she tried to recover at 4:33 of the opening frame as the Pandas went up by a goal. 14 seconds later, it became a two-goal lead when Cayle Dillon's shot from the point was tipped down by Madison Willan, allowing the puck to skip over the pad of Schubert for the 2-0 lead! The Pandas would continue pressing all period long, but the Bisons' defence and Schubert would settle things down after that early goal outburst by the Pandas. The unfortunate part is that the Pandas used that aggressive play to also stifle the Bisons' attack as the Pandas took that 2-0 lead into the intermission after having outshot the Bisons 13-3 in the period.

The second period was a tale of two periods as the Pandas started the frame strong similar to how they ended the first period followed by Manitoba pulling up their socks and coming back at the Pandas in the second-half of the period. Chances were had at both ends as the teams looked for goals, but both Chamberlin and Schubert were good in the creases as they kept all pucks from getting into the cages behind them. The 2-0 score would hold in favour of the Pandas as we moved to third period with Alberta leading 20-10 in shots.

The third period felt like the second did as both teams looked for chances only to be denied by the opposition netminder while the defences took care of the rest. An Alberta penalty midway through the frame saw the Pandas strike as Regan Wright tore up the ice to recover a puck banked off the boards by Chloe Snaith, and Wright's shot would be stopped by Schubert's left pad but her backwards momentum carried the puck under her and into the net as Wright gets credit for the shorthanded marker and the 3-0 lead at 11:16! On the same power-play and with nothing to lose, head coach Jon Rempel opted to pull Schubert for a 6-on-4 opportunity, but an errant pass went off Molly Kunnas' skate, Autumn MacDougall grabbed the loose puck, and she'd loft it into the yawning cage for the shorthanded, empty-net goal at 12:02. And in a move that likely should have happened after the Wright goal, Howie Draper did pull Chamberlin with 5:31 to go, allowing Sydney McCluskey some time in the Pandas' net before the season ended. Her five minutes saw her make a few saves, but the Bisons couldn't solve any of the Pandas' netminders on this night as Alberta skated to the 4-0 victory. Kirsten Chamberlin picked up her 11th win of the season while unselfishly sacrificing her own shutout in her 14-save effort over 54:29 of work while Amanda Schubert's Canada West career came to a close with a 25-save night despite the loss to the Pandas. For the record, Sydney McCluskey was three-for-three on stops in her 5:31 of work!

Highlights of this game are below!

The Thunderbirds travelled to Calgary to play the Mount Royal Cougars where they were looking to try and move up the standings in the hopes of hosting one of Regina or Mount Royal. Mount Royal had the same plan as the T-Birds as these two teams met on the final weekend tied at 34 points and one point back of the Regina Cougars. The only thing that mattered for both teams were wins on this weekend. Tory Micklash was in the UBC net on this night while the Cougars opted to start their rookie sensation in Kaitlyn Ross.

The first period saw both teams play a little tentatively in the opening frame as neither side was willing to give up the first goal. Midway through the frame, Tianna Ko looked like she was going to break the goose egg, but Tory Micklash made an outstanding save to deny the Cougars from taking the lead. There were a couple of other chances at both ends, but Micklash and Ross preferred to keep their perfection intact as the period closed with the score tied at 0-0 and Mount Royal leading 8-5 in shots.

The second period felt a lot like the first period did with the only difference being the two power-plays that each side received. That allowed for more shots, but it also meant there were more saves as both Micklash and Ross had no interest in goals being scored behind them. For a pair of teams needing wins, finding a single goal might be all that would be needed on this night as the game remained tied at 0-0 through 40 minutes despite MRU holding a 17-11 edge in shots.

The third period got underway with both teams looking for victory, and a turnover at the UBC blue line would be the catalyst for the first goal. Mikayla Ogrodniczuk tried to throw a puck to her teammates from the right half-boards through the middle, but the puck was picked off by Anna Purschke who had all sorts of open space to head-fake Micklash to freeze her and sweep it by her pad on the forehand to make it 1-0 for the Cougars at 6:53! Six minutes later, the Cougars would double their lead on the power-play when Kate Hufnagel hit Emma Bergesen who came off the bench, and Bergesen fired a laser to the top corner glove-side on Micklash for the power-play marker at 13:50 and the 2-0 lead! Late in the third period with the net empty, UBC won an offensive zone face-off back to Rylind MacKinnon who fed Mackenzie Kordic on the left side for the one-timer, and her blast went off Laura Cook in front and past Ross for the goal to give UBC life with 1:11 to play! Despite bringing all sorts of pressure in the final minute, the T-Birds could not find another goal as the Mount Royal Cougars win a big game by a 2-1 score over the Thunderbirds. Kaitlyn Ross earned her seventh win of the season with a 17-save effort while Tory Micklash suffered the loss despite making 24 saves on this night.

Highlights of this game are below!

SATURDAY: Mount Royal was looking to keep themselves rolling into the playoffs with another win while UBC needed a victory to have a shot at fifth-place after learning that a tie with Mount Royal would do nothing with the Cougars holding the tie-breaker. In order for them to get fifth-place, they'd have to win while hoping that Saskatchewan beat the Regina Cougars, so wins were still important for both teams in this game! We'd see a rematch from the previous night as Tory Micklash and Kaitlyn Ross stood 200-feet apart on the ice tonight.

The teams certainly played more cautiously compared to how they finished the game one night earlier as chances were few and far between for the two clubs. While both had a power-play opportunity in the first period, neither would capitalize in a fairly quiet period. After 20 minutes, the score remained 0-0 with the teams tied in shots at 5-5.

The second period saw UBC play with much more aggression, but that had a yin and yang to it as they generated more shots, but also found themselves serving more penalties. Their first penalty before the six-minute mark would prove costly when Daria O'Neill's one-timer from the right point was deflected in front and floated into the top corner on the blocker side past Micklash before she could locate the deflected puck, and Mount Royal was up 1-0 at 6:30! The Cougars would kill off a penalty midway through the period, but there were few chances seen in the second-half of the frame as the Cougars went into the second intermission with the one-goal lead, but UBC held the 11-7 advantage in shots.

The third period saw Mount Royal increase their presence in the penalty box by taking three minor penalties in the frame, but the penalty-killing units were preventing shots from finding Ross or the net while shorthanded. The one penalty assessed to UBC? It cost them as Anna Purschke deflected the Emma Bergesen point shot past Micklash at 14:19 for the power-play goal and the 2-0 MRU lead! UBC just couldn't get pucks to the net through the remainder of the game, and Mount Royal would end their regular season with a 2-0 victory over the Thunderbirds. Kaitlyn Ross picked up her eighth win and fourth shutout of the season with a perfect 14-for-14 effort in saves while Tory Micklash took her second-straight loss after making 12 saves.

Highlights are below!

Regina, with wins, still had a chance to control their own fate. Depending on what happened elsewhere, they could end up anywhere between fourth- and sixth-place based on their results against their provincial rivals, so they were hunting for wins and points. Saskatchewan had a shot at second-place, but would finish no worse than third-place this season. Jessica Vance got the nod for the Huskies while Jane Kish was in the net for the Cougars.

The first period was pretty reserved with two penalties that all but cancelled one another out in the middle of the frame before Saskatchewan had a full advantage late, but they generated no goals on that sequence. A rather quiet period would end with the score tied at 0-0 and the teams tied in shots at 5-5.

The parade to the penalty box for both teams continued in the second period as the Cougars were granted some extended power-play time with nothing to show for it before Saskatchewan got the same extended opportunity with the same results. Late in the period, though, Jenna Merk beat Vance to put the Cougars up 1-0 at 15:22! That goal would stand into the intermission with Regina up 13-12 in shots.

Regina survived an early penalty call to maintain their one-goal lead, but that luck would run out when Sophie Shirley found herself on a breakaway, beating Jane Kish with her shot at 9:55 to tie the game at 1-1! Regina would be called for another penalty, but they weathered the storm to survive. The clock ticked down to the final horn with the Huskies and Cougars still tied at 1-1, so we'd go to overtime!

The four-on-four overtime period saw nothing resolved between these two teams, so we'd jump to three-on-three overtime where it took just 59 seconds to find a winner. Bailee Bourassa would end this game when she lit the lamp behind Jane Kish as the Saskatchewan Huskies scored victory with the 2-1 double-overtime score over the Regina Cougars! Jessica Vance picked up her 12th win with a 16-save night while Jane Kish suffered the overtime loss after stopping 19 shots.

There are no highlights because the Regina Cougars opted not to put a camera at the rink tonight despite this being one of the biggest weekends for them in recent history, so there are no highlights. Get it together, Cougars! Highlights make everything better!

With points split between the two sides, the option of winning in regulation was never more prominent for Regina in this game if they hoped to maintain their fourth-place status. With the overtime victory last night, Sasktachewan could still overtake Calgary with a regulation win, some help from the tie-breaker, and some additional help from the Pronghorns. A regulation win for either side could be huge in this final game of the season! Jane Kish and Jessica Vance would square off in a rematch from Friday night's game.

These two teams continued their chess match in this game as the first period was more of the scoreless hockey variety despite Regina having a pair of power-play advantages compared to Saskatchewan's lone advantage. Both netminders were on their games, though, and we saw some good saves made in the first frame as the teams opened up the ice and found room to shoot. However, with no pucks denting twine, we'd go to the second period still tied at 0-0 and with Regina leading 11-9 in shots.

The second period saw the stalemate broken early despite the Saskatchewan highlight package providing no evidence of this goal. Regina used an early power-play where Merissa Zerr found room past Jessica Vance on her own rebound after a solid glove save by the netminder, but the damage had been done at 3:59 as Regina took the 1-0 lead! Regina was then assessed the next three minor penalties in this period, but that improved Cougars penalty-kill was good on all three shorthanded situations as the lead remained intact through the to the second intermission with Saskatchewan up 18-17 in shots.

The third period saw the teams looking to add more than one goal to the scoreboard as they went up and down the ice, and the Cougars would commit a foul that allowed the Huskies to find the net. On the power-play, Sophie Lalor and Bailee Bourassa played catch at the top of the circles before Lalor ripped a wrist shot high on the blocker side on Kish at 11:47 to tie the game at 1-1! 3:32 later off a face-off win by the Huskies, Emma Nutter sent the puck across to her defensive partner in Morgan Willoughby, and Willoughby's shot beat Kish in virtually the same spot as the Lalor goal did as the Huskies jumped ahead 2-1! Not content with a loss, the Cougars pulled Kish with 2:30 to play in an effort to at least get to overtime, and they'd find the goal they needed. Paige Hubbard's wrap-around attempt was stopped by Vance, but her second shot chipped the puck up and over the Huskies netminder as the Cougars tied the game with 40 seconds remaining! No other goals would be scored before the horn, so we'd head to extra time for the second-straight night!

The four-on-four overtime period? Zero goals scored. The three-on-three overtime period? Ditto. That means it was time for a skills competition! The first three rounds of the shootout saw the goalies stand tall. In Round Four, Sophie Lalor's shot was denied by Kish, but Jaycee Magwood beat Vance through the wickets to send Regina home with the 3-2 shootout victory! Jane Kish picked up her 13th win of the season with a 34-save performance plus four more stops in the shootout while Jessica Vance drops the shootout after making 26 saves in 70 minutes of play plus three more in the skills competition.

Highlights are below!

CWUAA WOMEN'S HOCKEY
School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
Alberta
19-8-1-0
59 81 31
W1
BYE
Calgary
17-7-1-3
56 61 42
W2
BYE
Saskatchewan
14-7-3-4
52 55 42
L1
vs UBC
Mount Royal
12-14-2-0
40 43 44
W3
vs REG
Regina
9-13-5-1
38 48 54
W1
@ MRU
British Columbia
9-13-1-5
34 41 59
L2
@ SAS
Manitoba
8-17-2-1
29 34 63
L1
OUT
Lethbridge
7-18-2-3
28 48 76
L3
OUT
*teams in yellow have clinched a playoff spot

The Last Word

The playoff match-ups are set, and they'll look something like this.

The scheduling for these games are as follows:

Friday, February 14 at 7pm ST
Saturday, February 15 at 7pm ST
Sunday, February 16 at 7pm ST (if necessary)


Friday, February 14 at 2:30pm MT
Saturday, February 15 at 2:30pm MT
Sunday, February 16 at 2:30pm MT (if necessary)

We'll go over these match-ups in-depth on The Hockey Show this week on Thursday, so make sure you tune in for that as we break down some numbers and predict who will move on to face either Calgary or Alberta in the semifinals.

Everything is set for the playoffs as four teams will battle this upcoming weekend with the hopes of winning the Canada West Conference while earning a berth into the U SPORTS National Championship. It all starts Friday, so make sure you tune in on Canada West TV to catch all the action or, better yet, head down to either Merlis Belsher Place or Flames Community Arena to cheer on the ladies as they start the "second season" of play!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!