Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Paul Maurice Live Blog

It's a very un-Florida-like in Winnipeg tonight as the temperature plunges to -25C - -37C with the wind - while the Jets celebrate Canadian Forces Night during warm-up. There's a buzz in the air as the Jets take the ice with two games in-hand on the Dallas Stars while trailing the Stars for top spot in the Central Division by just two points. The Panthers enter the game in fifth-place in the Atlantic Division, some 13 points back of division-leading Boston, and they bring with them a familiar face in head coach Paul Maurice!

I'm not here to gloss over that fact as the former Jets head coach left Winnipeg abruptly after compiling a 315-224-62 record with the Jets. It should be noted that Maurice first coached against the Jets during his first season behind the bench in the NHL with Hartford. His Whalers won that game in Winnipeg by a 3-2 score before they dropped the second game against the Jets at home by a 5-2 score.

He was also behind the bench for the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2011-12 season which saw the Jets return to Winnipeg. During that season in which the Jets and Hurricanes were division rivals in the Southeast Division, Maurice's Hurricanes were 2-3-1 against the Jets including being 1-2-0 in Winnipeg that season.

If you're keeping track of Maurice's career, those would be the only times he has faced the Jets as the opposing coach being that the Jets moved to Arizona in 1996-97 and Maurice was dismissed from the Hurricanes in 2011-12. Will he add a win tonight as the head coach of the Jets? Let's find out as we do a live blog featuring the Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets!

First Period

  • We get our first coach comparison shortly after the first shift ends as Kevin Sawyer, colour commentator for the Jets, tries to draw comparisons between Rick Bowness and Paul Maurice.
  • Three minutes in, the Jets lead 3-0 in shots, Spencer Knight looks solid in the Florida end, and Maurice's team looks lost in their own zone. In other words, everything is going as expected with these two teams.
  • Decent pace to this game, but not a lot of pucks hitting goalies yet as we're seven minutes into this game. This feels like a chess game so far.
  • Mike Eyssimont, it should be noted, was originally a draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings back in 2016, but never saw action with the Kings despite a few solid seasons with the AHL Ontario Reign. The former Fargo Force and St. Cloud State forward is certainly making his time count with Winnipeg as he's on the second line tonight with Kyle Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois.
  • Dylan DeMelo showing some offensive moxie by trying to split Montour and Forsling, but he draws the penalty as Montour will sit for two-or-less for the infraction.
  • A ton of offensive presssure as they spent the entire two minutes of the advantage in the Panthers' zone, but credit Spencer Knight with making a few key saves to keep this game tied at zeroes. Impressive by Winnipeg, though.
  • How can anyone not like Axel Jonsson-Fjallby? Dude is pure hustle! He may not score, but he forechecks like a demon!
  • Here comes the video tribute for Paul Maurice and Jamie Kompon as the two former Jets coaches get their moment from the fans in Winnipeg. After 600 games here, take a bow, gents. You didn't bring a Stanley Cup to Winnipeg, but the memories and the memes were plentiful.
  • With Sam Bennett in penalty box, the Jets capitalize as Pierre-Luc Dubois corrals a loose puck in the slot and slides it to Mark Scheifele who puts it behind Spencer Knight at 13:20! WINNIPEG JETS LEAD 1-0!
  • Connor Hellebuyck announces his presence with a solid glove save off Aaron Ekblad.
  • With Brendan Dillon in the penalty box, Carter Verhaeghe goes shelf over Hellebuyck's glove at 14:11. FLORIDA PANTHERS TIE THE GAME AT 1-1!
  • Moments after the Florida goal, Pierre-Luc Dubois flips a backhand pass to Kyle Connor, and Connor's quick wrister beats Knight on the stick side at 14:28! WINNIPEG JETS LEAD 2-1!
  • Both Schiefele and Connor have good chances on consecutive plays to make it a two-goal lead, but the Panthers escape both opportunities unscathed.
  • Matthew Tkachuk spears Brendan Dillon, leaving the big defender on the ice in pain. Dillon heads to the room upon getting up while Tkachuk's stupidity will cost him two minutes in the sin bin. Jets are, notably, 1-for-2 on the power-play.
  • Nothing comes of the power-play, and the final seconds tick off the clock as the Jets take the lead into the first break.

Intermission #1

For those that missed it, here's the video tribute that the Jets had on the scoreboard for former coaches Maurice and Kompon.

Second Period

  • Jets come out with some moxie in the second period, and they capitalize early as Connor stick-checks Laumberg, Dubois picks up the puck and feeds Connor, and Connor goes five-hole on Knight just 1:43 into the frame. WINNIPEG JETS LEAD 3-1!
  • That will also spell the end of Spencer Knight's night as he's replaced by Sergei Bobrovsky in the Panthers net.
  • Axel Jonsson-Fjallby had a head of steam to nearly create a 2-on-1 with Mark Scheifele, but Scheifele was just across the line a step early to end that threat. Jets look like sharks circling in the water right now.
  • I like what Josh Mahura of the Panthers has shown tonight. He's not afraid to jump into the play, and he's played a solid game in his own zone thus far. The 24 year-old waiver claim from the Anaheim Ducks looks like he may have a bright future in the league!
  • Just short of six minutes into the second period, and Florida is pushing back. Hellebuyck is doing a good job with rebound control and getting square to shooters tonight.
  • Bobrovsky with his first big save in turning aside Kyle Connor.
  • A scrap between Nick Cousins and Neal Pionk is more of a middleweight tilt, but I'm giving the result to Pionk after a couple of decent shots. No one is hurt, thankfully, as both men sit for five minutes after that bout.
  • Florida is showing some good offensive zone presence, but they're not getting quality shots. The shot from Verhaeghe that popped Hellebuyck's mask off was from a very tough angle, so I'm not sure if he was angling for a rebound?
  • Yikes. Josh Mahura just hit Blake Wheeler from behind. That's two for boarding.
  • Is there a reason why the Jets have gone from controlled entries to dump-ins on their power-play? Zero zone time on this power-play thus far and there's only 40 seconds to go.
  • Wow. Controlled entry leads to a tic-tac-toe passing play as Connor feeds Scheifele on the far post for the easy one-timer as Bobrovsky had no chance. WINNIPEG JETS LEAD 4-1!
  • Carter Verhaeghe has been Florida's best player all night. How did the Maple Leafs deal this guy to the Islanders for Michael Grabner? How did the Islanders trade him to Tampa Bay for Kristers Gudlevskis? And how did the Lightning let him walk as a free agent? He's 27 and looks great for the Panthers.
  • Connor Hellebucyk might be getting better as this game goes on. Fantastic save on Bennett in tight.
  • Matthew Tkachuk: only good when playing with good linemates? It might be true. Dude's been invisible thus far.
  • Morrissey misses the check on Eric Staal and is forced to wrap an arm around him. That's an easy holding call for the officials as this power-play will carry into the third if no goals are scored in the final 1:05.
  • The Jets will carry the three-goal lead into the third period as time expires! 55 seconds left on the penalty.

Intermission #2

Quick update from other games happening:
  • Toronto leads Dallas 3-0 after 40 minutes.
  • St. Louis defeats the Islanders by a 7-4 score.
  • New Jersey shut out Chicago 3-0.
  • Pittsburgh downs Columbus by a 4-1 score.
  • Detroit defeats Tampa Bay in a 4-2 final.
  • Los Angeles beats Ottawa 5-2 in their game.
  • Carolina will tangle with Anaheim later.
  • Montreal is in Seattle for a late game.
  • Warnock has a slight lead over Walker in Georgia.
More to come!

Monday, 5 December 2022

A Winner At Every Level

This blog often shares stories about great things that former Canada West players are doing, but I first got into the SDHL scene when former Manitoba defender Erica Rieder joined MoDo. MoDo, at the time, also boasted a couple of players who played at the University of Montreal in Lore Baudrit and Marion Allemoz who were standouts with the French National Team as well. Allemoz was always a good player at the university level in the RSEQ in helping Montreal to two U SPORTS National Championships in 2013 and 2016, but she really showed her skills skating professional in the SDHL where she was a consistent scorer.

It was bittersweet when Allemoz announced she was retiring from the game this spring at the age of 32, but Allemoz was only hanging up the skates for new opportunties as she decided to bring her skills and knowledge to the coaching world. Allemoz had already been coaching as an assistant coach with the French U16 National Team, but she was contacted by Linköping in August about joining the squad as an assistant coach under Simon Hedefalk. Allemoz jumped at the opportunity to get back to the SDHL as she accepted the position.

However, a month into the season saw Hedefalk step down from the head coaching position due to family reasons, giving Allemoz the biggest opportunity in her 33 years of being in and around the game: head coach of an SDHL team! Two months after taking over, Allemoz hasn't lead Linköping to top of the table yet, but she's making her mark in one of the top professional women's hockey leagues on the planet!

"I'm grateful that Linköping gave me their trust and this opportunity," Allemoz told Liz Montroy of IIHF.com. "For me it's about where I can bring the team – how I can develop the players, what I can bring as a coach. I believe in hard work and work ethic. I also want to give the players responsibility."

Linköping director Niclas Björkman seemed to have full confidence in Allemoz's ability despite having no head coaching experience on her resumé, calling the promotion "a natural solution."

"During her time with the team, Marion has shown great skill," Björkman told Hockeysvierge. "She is new as a coach, we are well aware of that, but we will do everything to support her and the team in the journey ahead."

Jumping into the SDHL as a head coach after a month on the job as an assistant coach would be a big ask for any experienced coach. Allemoz was taking over after having completed her coaching degree in 2020 and after hanging up the skates in May. Clearly, the learning curve would be steep, but she took over a team that started the season 2-4-0-0 under Hedefalk. The odds were stacked against her, but Allemoz has never backed down from a challenge. Could she get the squad to start climbing the standings?

Since the change on October 12, Allemoz hasn't seen massive success, but Linköping is still in the battle. She's 1-6-4-1 in the eleven games she's stood behind the bench as head coach, but Linköping is three points back of SDE for fifth-place in the SDHL despite their struggles. Allemoz picked up her first win on October 22 as Linköping downed AIK 5-4 in overtime, and her first regulation win as had coach came earlier today as Linköping beat AIK 3-0. Learning on the fly is never easy, but it seems that Allemoz is building the right culture for success at Linköping.

"[My goal] is to bring the team to the best place I can," said Allemoz told Montroy. "I really want to build a strong group."

There's still a lot of hockey to be played this season, so the chances of Linköping to move up the standings is still good. They have two games in-hand on SDE, but will play one of those games on Wednesday when they face Djurgårdens which will be a stiff test for the Linköping squad once again. No one said the task would be easy as Djurgårdens has a 16-point advantage over Linköping, but the two games they've played thus far has seen Linköping play well despite losing 4-2 and 3-2 in those games.

The key for Linköping is that they've been playing extremely well over the last few weeks, posting a 0-1-3-1 record. Yes, it's only seven of a possible 15 points in their pockets, but winning those games in overtime might be the team showing a little moxie as Allemoz's tactics and systems start to show fruit. The key will be sustained, consistent play when the schedule sees MoDo and Luleå show up in early January.

Wins and losses aside, Allemoz taking over Linköping is good for the game overall as her efforts will open doors for others just as it did when she became the first Frenchwoman to play at the U SPORTS level, just as it did when she was the first Frenchwoman to play in the CWHL, and just as it was when she helped France play in the top women's division at the World Championship for just the second time in the country's history. None of that happened overnight, it should be noted, so expecting her to be the female equivalent of Scotty Bowman right out of the gate are expectations that would never be met.

There likely won't be an induction ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame for Marion Allemoz, but she's made significant impacts on hockey in Canada, Sweden, and her home country of France. She's a hockey icon in France where her play has inspired girls to play, and I have a feeling that her impact on the coaching world will be felt for years to come. Marion Allemoz has always put in the work in order to be successful, and she'll do the same behind the bench.

I don't know about you, but I think it's pretty cool that the new head coach of Linköping learned a lot from her time in Montreal. Marion Allemoz was a winner with the Carabins, and it will only be a matter of time until it happens with Linköping.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 4 December 2022

The Rundown - Week 10

According to the Canada West schedule, it's the final weekend of action for all nine teams. While eight teams played as the Fluffy Cows watched, this will be the final entry for The Rundown for the 2022 calendar year that involves recaps. Note how that sentence was structured because I plan on doing some deep dives into statistics for the rest of December after today. That being said, let's dive into recaps because there were eight games featuring eight teams that had the oppotunity to make serious changes to the standings. As teams battle for playoff spots, these games are the ones that teams may regret or celebrate. Let's take a look at what happened in the final week before the December break as we get set for exams and the holidays on The Rundown!

FRIDAY: The Saskatchewan Huskies went southwest to Calgary to face the Dinos in one of the more intriguing matchups. If the Dinos are going to make the playoffs, they need to help themselves and put pressure on the Fluffy Cows to match their efforts. Winning a pair against the Huskies would do the trick. The Huskies, meanwhile, had the Pandas in their sights as they looked to improve their playoff position heading into the break. Camryn Drever was in the Saskatchewan net while Gabriella Durante got the call for Calgary.

Both teams came out firing, but blocking shots and disrupting passes was the name of the game early on. Both teams had power-plays, but couldn't convert despite getting chances. A Saskatchewan forecheck would propmt the first goal as Kate Ball lifted a defender's stick behind the Calgary net on a dump-in that allowed Taylor Wilkinson to chip the puck out front to a wide-open Kelsey Hall, and she went low on the stick side to make it 1-0 for Saskatchewan at 13:37! The seesaw battle would continue for the remainder of the period, but we'd hit the break with the Huskies leading by a goal despite Calgary holding a 7-4 edge in shots.

The second period was realtively quiet despite both sides still looking for more offence. Saskatchewan had the only power-play of the frame, but they couldn't capitalize despite putting more shots on the Calgary net. We did get a clang off a goal post behind Durante, but that's as close as anyone got as the 1-0 score held firm through 40 minutes with the teams tied at 12 shots apiece.

I don't know what was said in the Calgary locker room between periods, but the Dinos came out breathing fire. A face-off win by Dana Wood came back to Keegan Goulet who sent a shot towards Drever that was deflected by Sydney Mercier past the Huskies netminder just 53 seconds into the frame, and we had ourselves a 1-1 game! Calgary didn't let up after that goal as they pushed for the lead, but the Huskies simply would not break thanks to Drever. Chance after chance was denied by the goalie in green-and-white, and that meant we were destined for overtime when the horn sounded as the 1-1 tie remained intact with Calgary outshooting Saskatchewan by a 28-14 margin!

We didn't need long in the extra period to get a winner. Kendra Zuchotzki's pressure forced Brooke Dennett into a turnover at the Saskatchewan blue line, and the Huskies defender was off to the races. She deked Durante, but Durante's toe got just enough of the puck to prevent it from going in. However, Sophie Lalor had raced down the ice, and she chipped the puck in the crease across the goal line just 24 seconds into the overtime frame to give Saskatchewan the 2-1 overtime win over Calgary! Camryn Drever picked up her sixth win of the season while stopping 27 shots in 60:24 of work while Gabriella Durante stopped 13 shots in the overtime loss.

Highlights of this one are below. Thank you, Calgary Dinos!

SATURDAY: Calgary did pick up one point in Friday's tilt with the Huskies, but they were back on Saturday looking for more. The Huskies were looking to strengthen their position in the standings once again with another win in the second-half of the series. Camryn Drever got the nod in the final game of 2022 for the Huskies while Gabriella Durante was closing out 2022 in the Calgary crease.

Before we get too deep into this recap, let me preface this by saying that a smile creeps across my face whenever a former Lethbridge Pronghorns player scores. Just 5:53 in, former Pronghorn Meg Dyer threw a puck towards the net that former Pronghorn Kenzie Lausberg redirected out front, and the Lethbridge combo playing for the Huskies made it 1-0 with Lausberg's first goal for the Huskies in her career, and her first goal since Saturday, October 20, 2018 when she beat Jessica Vance of the Saskatchewan Huskies! Yes, I'm smiling. Lausberg's first Canada West goal in 1505 days deserves a smile.

The game resumed after Lausberg's celebration, and the Dinos looked for the equalizer as Brooke Dennett tore down the right side. She'd slow up and turn back before feeding Annaliese Meier whose quick one-timer handcuffed Drever, but the puck hit iron before Elizabeth Lang swept it into the net at 9:30 to make it 1-1! Despite trading power-plays later in the period, the 1-1 tie carried into the first intermission with Calgary up 11-9 in shots.

The physicality between these two teams always seems to ramp up when they meet, and the second period showed some of that with three consecutive minor penalties to Calgary that kept them from establishing offensive zone time. The third penalty hurt even more when Sophie Lalor's long shot was stopped, but Kara Kondrat got a couple of whacks to slam it home past Durante on the power-play at 13:06 for the 2-1 Saskatchewan lead! However, that lead was short-lived as Calgary caught Saskatchewan in a bad change 1:22 later when Brette Kerley was sent in alone, but Drever made the save. The only problem? The rebound popped out to Jada Leung who made no mistake in potting her first Canada West goal at 14:28 to make it a 2-2 game! That score would hold over the final five minutes as the game remained 2-2 after 40 minutes with Calgary up 23-19 in shots.

The teams traded a pair of power-plays in the period to no effect as Saskatchewan was looking to end this game in regulation with a solid push in the final frame. Neither goaltender, however, had any interest in allowing a goal as both Drever and Durante were equal to the task. When the horn sounded, the game was still tied at 2-2, so we got some free hockey to end 2022 with Saskatchewan holding a 32-31 edge in shots to begin overtime.

The first period saw nothing except a Saskatchewan penalty which they killed, so it was off to 3-on-3 hockey where we would get a winner. After the penalty expired and with four players on the ice for both teams, another poor change for the Huskies allowed the Dinos to find Elizabeth Lang at center ice who hit Alli Borrow at the Huskies' blue line with nothing but daylight between her and Drever. Borrow came in on the right side and went high over the blocker of Drever at 2:55 of double-overtime to end this game as the Dinos ended 2022 with a 3-2 win over the Huskies! Gabriella Durante picked up her sixth win of the season with 34 stops in 67:55 while Camryn Drever made 36 stops in the double-overtime loss.

Before we hit the highlights, apparently the Calgary scorekeepers had Colby Wilson playing this entire game for the Huskies, and they completely missed on one of the two referees on the gamesheet. How can this be submitted as an "official gamesheet" when it has two major errors on it? Figure it out, Dinos. This can't happen. Gamesheets matter.

This highlight package had me smiling because of the Lausberg goal, but also because former Pronghorn Alli Borrow ended the game. I miss that plucky Pronghorns team. Here are the goals!

FRIDAY: The last home-and-home series of 2022 goes to the two teams that call Edmonton home as the MacEwan Griffins traveled across town to meet the Alberta Pandas. I made it fairly clear last week that if MacEwan didn't start scoring, the playoff dream would fade quickly. Running into Alberta wouldn't make that task any easier. The Pandas, meanwhile, were looking to cement themselves in at third-place at worst with a couple of wins as they aimed to track down MRU and UBC. Brianna Sank got the start for Griffins in this game while Halle Oswald was in the crease for the Pandas.

Things didn't start well for MacEwan as they were shorthanded just 1:13 into the game, and I believe I've warned everyone about the Pandas' power-play. If not, here's your reminder not take unnecessary penalties because, just 17 seconds later, Jadynn Morden found a loose puck in the slot, and she buried it behind Sank for the 1-0 lead. Alberta's momentum was slowed in the latter half of the period as were whistled for a couple of penalties before Madison Willan was excused from the game due to a hit from behind. That's a big piece of the Alberta offence sent off, so could MacEwan capitalize being down 1-0 after 20 minutes? Alberta held a 10-6 edge in shots.

Alberta would get another early goal in this period as Kallie Clouston got a couple of whacks at a rebound off a Jadynn Morden shot before she buried it at 2:53 to make it 2-0 for the Pandas. The Griffins would get one back a few minutes later when Sydney Hughson tipped an Allee Isley shot past Oswald to make it 2-1 at 8:22, but the Pandas would restore the two-goal lead 3:28 later when Clouston struck again to make it 3-1 for Alberta. The final eight minutes would see the battle continue, but the 3-1 score would carry into the break with Alberta leading 22-12 in shots on net.

With Alberta holding a two-goal lead, it was all about limiting chances for MacEwan as the Pandas didn't give up many scoring chances. In preventing chances, Alberta didn't create a lot of their own, but Allison Reich showed some nice hands as she went forehand-backhand-netting behind Sank on a partial breakaway with 4:04 to play to make it 4-1. When the horn sounded, that 4-1 score was the final as the Pandas downed the Griffins. Halle Oswald stopped 16 shots for her ninth win of the season while Brianna Sank was on the wrong end of a 23-save effort.

Alberta's highlight package has no audio. Why? No clue. Narrate as you see fit as you're now hosting SportsCentre.

SATURDAY: With the series shifting to downtown Edmonton, the Pandas looked to close out 2022 with a sweep of the Griffins. A victory today would mean that Alberta resumes the season in third-place, so they were looking for one more victory in 2022. The Griffins needed more than a goal to beat the Pandas, but home ice is usually friendlier than Clare Drake Arena so they were aiming for the split. Misty Rey got her first Canada West start for the Pandas in this one while Brianna Sank started the last game of 2022 for the Griffins.

It seemed like MacEwan was going to get an early break as Alberta was whistled for an infraction just 51 seconds into this game, but MacEwan would take a penalty of their own nine seconds later to end that power-play. That interaction pretty much set the tone for the game as this one was physical with a bit of dirty play mixed in at times. Payton Laumbach would put Alberta on the board at 3:41 off a feed from Madison Willan, and she'd double the lead at 18:22 when she converted an Natalie Rieser pass. Through the opening 20 minutes, Alberta held the 2-0 lead and a 13-8 advantage in shots.

Abby Soyko would score on an early power-play just 1:12 into the second period after MacEwan was whistled for bodychecking at the 59-second mark, and they'd make it a 4-0 game on the power-play a few minutes later when Madison Willan found the back of the net at 5:55. Beyond that point, the parade to the penalty box started. Despite both sides having scoring chances, neither side would dent twine for the remaining fourteen minutes and we'd go to the third period with Alberta up 4-0 and leading 22-13 in shots.

In the final frame, 28 minutes of penalties were called - including a ten-minute misconduct to MacEwan's Mila Verbicky - as neither side found much offensive flow. It looked like both teams needed some time away from one another after the dust settled on a night where 46 penalty minutes were collected by the squads, but Alberta did prevail by that 4-0 score over the Griffins. Misty Rey collected her first win and her first shutout in her first Canada West start with a 20-save effort while Brianna Sank took the loss on 29-save night.

MacEwan is anti-highlights, so let's bring back the other Griffins! Being that it's the holiday season, let's get some carols in here!

FRIDAY: Mount Royal took their first weekend trip out to Langley to face the Trinity Western Spartans, and they wanted to make it memorable with a pair of wins to close out 2022. The Spartans, being gracious hosts, wanted nothing to do with that idea as they were looking to track down both Saskatchewan and Alberta ahead of them with a pair of wins. Kaitlyn Ross was in the Cougars' net while Mabel Maltais got the start for the Spartans.

Full disclosure: that this recap isn't going to be long because I fell asleep. I know - weak effort, Teebz, but I was tired from a busy day and a poor sleep on Thursday night. Anyway, to the brief recap.

Courtney Kollman scored at 18:36 of the first period, she added a second goal at 3:37 of the second period, and Aliya Johma iced the game with a power-play goal at 18:36 of the third period. Mount Royal played a complete game on Friday night, outshooting the Spartans 30-18 while not allowing them very many opportunities where Ross had to be spectacular. In the end, Mount Royal defeated Trinity Western by the 3-0 score. Kaitlyn Ross stopped all 18 shots for her 11th win and fourth shutout of the season while Mabel Maltais took the loss after a 27-save night.

What I do want to point out is the recap turned in by the Spartans' writer. How is this even acceptable as a "recap"?
Both "Cougars 44" and "teammate 25" have names. I'm pretty certain it's not hard to look those up, but the entire recap of the game is above. The commentary and coach's comments and notable stuff that TWU posts in their recaps is nice, but how about actually RECAPPING THE GAME? I don't understand why this is so difficult.

Of course, there are also no highlights of this game because Trinity Western only creates highlight reels of their own players scoring. Because of that, let's post a funny hockey commercial in honour of Mount Royal's shutout tonight over the Spartans!

SATURDAY: Trinity Western likely wasn't very happy with their performance one night earlier, so one had to expect a response from them. Mount Royal was looking to close out the 2022 calendar with another victory to continue their push for playoff bye as they aimed for the sweep. Only one team would prevail, though, as Kaitlyn Ross was back in the Cougars' crease to finish off the 2022 schedule while Kate Fawcett had the final start in 2022 for the Spartans.

Both teams started this game very defensively responsible as neither side was giving open looks to their opponents. An early power-play for Mount Royal may have been a missed opportunity, but Trinity Western wouldn't make the same mistake with their power-play late in the period. Off a face-off win by Kailey Ledoux to the middle of the ice, Brooklyn Anderson one-timed the puck past Ross at 17:21 to put TWU up 1-0. 1:28 later, they had twice the lead when Jace Scott centered to Mackenzie Mayo, and her shot hit a Cougars player on the way in as the puck changed directions and caught Ross off-guard. When the horn sounded, that 2-0 Spartans lead was intact with the Spartans leading 7-4 in shots.

Mount Royal came out in the second period more focused as they found seams to get pucks on net. They failed to score on a power-play awarded to them midway through the period, but they would capitalize on a miscue when a TWU turnover ended up on the stick of Morgan Ramsey who went in alone on Fawcett. Her shot was stopped, but Ramsey chipped the rebound past Fawcett on the second chance at 11:47 to make it a 2-1 game. Despite the momentum building for the Cougars, they'd be stopped when the horn sounded as the Spartans carried the one-goal lead into the third period while MRU held a 14-12 edge in shots.

The momentum resumed in the third period as the Cougars showed why they've been one of Canada West's best teams over the last couple of seasons. They pressured the Spartans all over the ice while giving up very few chances, and they'd cash in on the power-play at 12:32 when Kiana McNinch found the puck in the slot and went high on the blocker side to make it a 2-2 game! Trinity Western would respond 49 seconds later, though, as a broken play left a loose puck at the top of the right face-off circle where Chelsea Debusschere stepped into it and ripped it to the back of the net for the 3-2 Trinity Western lead! The Cougars would roar back 1:57 later on a 5-on-3 advantage when Athena Hauck went shelf on Fawcett for the power-play equalizer, and we were tied at 3-3! Time would count down, the horn would sound, and the tie game meant we had free hockey!

The four-on-four period would need nearly the full five minutes to determine a winner, but Aliya Johma's deflection of an Emma Bergesen shot counted as the winner as the puck landed behind Fawcett at 4:43 for the 4-3 Mount Royal overtime win! Kaitlyn Ross picked up her 12th win of the season with a 15-save effort in 64:43 of time while Kate Fawcett made 22 saves in the overtime loss.

Before we get to highlight, I cannot stress that gamesheets need to be correct for statistical purposes. Both goalies did NOT play 65:00 tonight, TWU scorekeepers. They played 64:43 in total. Get it right for accuracy's sake.

Are you looking for Trinity Western goals? Because that's all I've got.

FRIDAY: The final series of the recaps here on The Rundown features the bookends as the first-place UBC Thunderbirds were hosting the ninth-place Regina Cougars. On the surface, this may seem like a mismatch, but we know that any team can beat any other team on any given day in Canada West. The Cougars needed that now as they looked to finish off 2022 with some positives while UBC was aiming to finish 2022 atop the Canada West standings. Natalie Williamson was looking to stonewall the Thunderbirds while Elise Hugens was back in the UBC net on a Friday night.

If there's one thing I won't do on The Rundown, it's write up a big recap for a blowout. Teams at this level deserve respect and celebrating a blowout is the opposite of that. Yes, bad games will happen, but it's best just to move on to the next one. In saying that, Friday didn't go well for one side.

Grace Elliott opened the scoring at 15:25 for the UBC Thunderbirds, and they'd continue the scoring in the second period as Mia Bierd scored at 9:02, Ashton Thorpe scored her first Canada West goal at 11:18, and Sierra LaPlante added another tally at 15:10 to pace the Thunderbirds to a 4-0 lead through 40 minutes. Lauren Focht would get one back for Regina at 10:38 of the third period, but UBC would restore the four-goal lead with 28 seconds to play as Chanreet Bassi scored a power-play goal as UBC skated to the 5-1 win over Regina on Friday night. Elise Hugens picked up her seventh win of the campaign after making ten saves while Natalie Williamson was under siege all night as she stopped 45 shots.

UBC doesn't do highlights, so let's throw another fun hockey commercial in here since a Cougars team was involved.

SATURDAY: After yesterday's one-sided affair, it was apparent that these two teams are on different levels when it comes to their play in Canada West this season. If we're being objective, Regina desperately needs points to climb back into the playoff race, but taking them off a well-oiled machine known as the T-Birds was going to be tough. Arden Kliewer was tasked with stopping UBC in this one while Kate Stuart got the final start in 2022 for UBC.

As you know, we're not celebrating blowouts on this blog, so let's just work through this. Jacquelyn Fleming put UBC up 1-0 in the first period at 7:50 before UBC broke this game open in the second period. Kennesha Miswaggon scored at 8:49, Cassidy Rhodes added UBC's third goal at 13:47, and Ireland Perrott made it 4-0 at 16:39. Joelle Fiala opened up a five-goal lead just 23 seconds into the third period, and Grace Elliott made it 6-0 at 3:23. Jadyn Kushniruk would snap Stuart's shutout with 12 seconds to play, but the damage had been done as the Thunderbirds closed out 2022 with a 6-1 win over the Regina Cougars. Kate Stuart stopped 12 shots for her seventh win of the season while Arden Kliewer made 37 stops on a tough night of work.

I thought about posting another funny commercial here, but I think we need something heartwarming since this is the last "highlight" of 2022. In honour of that and in the spirit of family with a women's hockey spin, I present the final hockey commercial for 2022. May it remind you that this game is supposed to be fun and that we're all just big kids who love this game. Enjoy the break!

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
30 60 27
Mount Royal
29 50 26
25 48 28
23 36 27
Trinity Western
20 42 44
17 35 44
14 38 55
7 20 49
5 21 50

Mathematically Speaking

Yes, they can still make the playoffs, but the reality is that both MacEwan and Regina are likely done. Both can still make the playoffs, but any combination of Calgary winning six games or Regina losing six games will result in their elimination from the playoffs based on points. The good news for the Cougars is that their first six games in January are against Manitoba, MacEwan, and Calgary.

It may seem like a tall ask, but they could be right in the mix of things with six wins against those teams. Head coach Sarah Hodges will need to get her team steamrolling through December with practice and execution of plays, but seeing the Cougars shouldn't surprise anyone.

As for MacEwan, any combination of Calgary winning seven games or MacEwan losing seven games will end their run this season. Things are a little tougher for the Griffins as they have a home-and-home with the Dinos before playing Regina and Trinity Western. It's not impossible, but the Griffins have to find ways to score.

What makes this task a little harder for both Regina and MacEwan is that if Calgary were to win both games in their respective series, those are four-point games in that a win by the Dinos plus a loss in each game would be catastrophic for Regina and MacEwan. Needless to say, both teams need to beat the Dinos if they hope to have a prayer at the playoffs.

Representing Canada

Another factor to take into consideration in the January schedule is the 2023 Universiade Games in Lake Placid, New York. The women's ice hockey event at the 2023 FISU Games starts on January 11 for Canada as they'll play Slovakia, and there likely will be a handful of Canada West players invited to play for Team Canada.

If a player such as Madison Willan from Alberta or Rylind MacKinnon from UBC or Courtney Kollman from MRU is selected, how will that affect those teams being that they'll be with Team Canada for two weeks? One has to wonder, though, if these absences will have an effect on results between teams that have players who go to Lake Placid and teams that do not. Or if a player is injured in Lake Placid and is forced to miss additional Canada West games.

Here's how I look at it: the players chosen are the best of the best in university hockey, so they deserve to wear the Canadian jersey. There's always a risk of injury regardless of where a player steps on the ice - Edmonton, Saskatoon, Lake Placid, or anywhere else. Obviously, it's a huge honour to represent Canada at the FISU Games and I'd never suggest that players should turn down that opportunity for any reason. After all, they earned it and they deserve to go if they're invited. To the players that are chosen, go play and represent Canada with everything you've got! Go Canada!

Coming Soon

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to do a few fun things with respect to Canada West this season. I'll do my annual mid-season Canada West All-Star Game selections, but I'm also going to post a mid-season NHL/Canada West Awards selections. I'm going to use the names of the major NHL awards to keep things clear as we look at top goalie, top rookie, top defender, and most valuable player through the first three months of Canada West hockey.

I'll also look at some of the key statistics to which people should be paying more attention such as primary scoring, scoring from defenders and how it relates to team success, scoring first in 2022, and playoff statistical analysis from past seasons. If you like a deeper dive into numbers, I'm going to jump into the deep end of the stats pool and see what we can find.

This will all be posted in December, so keep your eyes on this space!

The Last Word

It's been an exciting season thus far, and everyone deserves a happy holiday this season. Stay safe, study hard, do well on exams, and have the happiest of holidays no matter what you celebrate - Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Yule, Rohatsu, or any other major event. Exams will eat up a lot of time for the student-athletes we cheer for on a weekly basis, but let's not forget to enjoy the company of friends and family when the time allows.

I do want to draw attention to the efforts that a lot of schools make in helping those less fortunate as well. That spirit of giving shouldn't be lost following the last couple of years of the pandemic as we all should be looking out for one another, and it appears that a number of schools are going back to their charitable ways by helping those less fortunate. If you can help out with a donation of supplies, money, time, or all three, I highly recommend joining your local university team's effort to help those who need it the most.

Be safe, be responsible, enjoy the break, and we'll resume the recaps in 2023 when hockey hits the ice once more!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 3 December 2022

Going Streaking

If there's a phenomenon in sports that can both significantly help or significantly hinder a team, it's a streak. Hot streaks, as you likely know, usually see teams playing good hockey which allows that team to vault up the standings thanks to a prolonged period of time where both execution and luck favour that team. A cold streak usually involves some errors, a team struggling to score, or a combination of the two which results in seeing other teams overtake the slumping squad in the standings while teams that group is chasing pull away. It can be hard to explain why either happens when teams have played together all season and have all sorts of video to prepare for opponents, but that's simply the nature of sports at any point in history.

As you're likely aware, I've been keeping an eye on what's been happening over in the SDHL when it comes to tracking former Canada West players. There was a clash between Leksands IF and SDE HF earlier today as Anna Purschke and Jordan Colliton, formerly of the Mount Royal Cougars, squared off against the Swedish UBC Thunderbirds as SDE boasts all of Mathea Fischer, Hannah Clayton-Carroll, Kelly Murray, and Celine Tardif as well as former Alberta Pandas netminder Lindsey Post.

The end result in this game was a big win by Leksands IF by a 3-2 score over SDE HF, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Hannah Clayton-Carroll had a pair of assists in the game while Anna Purschke scored the goal that put Leksands IF up 2-1. Lindsey Post suffered the loss in this game, but I'm focusing less on individual stats and more on what's happening in the standings when it comes to these two teams and MoDo who has a couple more Canada West players on its roster.

We'll start with SDE HF because they have been struggling mightily for nearly a month at this point. Going back to November 5, SDE HF has a record of 0-6-0 while being outscored 24-7 in those games. The end result has seen SDE stuck in neutral as teams like MoDo and Djurgårdens IF pull away while Linköping HC and Leksands IF creep up on them. Before the six-straight losses, SDE HF had a record of 5-5-1-2 to find themselves in the middle of the pack in the standings. After dropping those six games, they're still in the middle of the standings in fifth-place, but they trail fourth-place Djurgårdens IF by 14 points.

To make SDE's matters a little worse, they lost to Leksands IF earlier today which tightened the gap between the two teams once more. As stated above, the 3-2 win by Leksands over SDE now has Leksands one point behind SDE with a 4-9-1-4 and 18 points. Leksands recent play has seen them win two-straight games over HV71 and SDE which added six points to their overall standings, but this is why regulation wins matter so much in a three-point scoring system. In the last three weeks, Leksands has gone from ninth-place to sixth-place thanks to beating a couple of teams ahead of them in the standings.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is MoDo who have made third-place their home while trying to hunt down both Luleå HF and Brynäs IF who simply do not lose very often. Making things a little harder for MoDo is Djurgårdens IF who are breathing down their necks as they sit one point back in the standings with 33 points. MoDo, however, did themselves a favour in defeating Djurgårdens IF 3-2 in a shootout on November 26, so they need to keep this five-game winning streak going.

If we put things into context, though, MoDo is 5-1-2-0 since dropping a 4-2 decision to Djurgårdens IF back on October 15, and that's a big reason why they're sitting as the third-place team in the SDHL. Everything seems to be clicking for them, and they'll have a chance to gain a few points against second-place Brynäs IF next Saturday when those two teams meet. The last time they did, MoDo came away with a 4-3 victory. That was the last loss that Brynäs IF recorded as they'll meet MoDo boasting a seven-game win streak with all seven games won in regulation.

With all of these former Canada West women having played in a three-point system thanks to their university days, they likely all know how important it is to get points any way one can when it comes to success. However, if one wants to climb the standings quickly, three-point regulation wins are the best way to do it. Losing six-straight games while not getting a point in any of those games is a shot at 18 points squandered while winning seven of eight in any fashion is at least 14 of a possible 24 points gained. That's a huge 32-point swing in the standings for teams headed in opposite directions.

There will always be streaks in hockey, but maximizing a winning streak as MoDo is currently doing and minimizing a losing streak - something SDE desperately needs to do - will likely mean finishing higher in the standings. I mentioned the 14-point gap between fourth-place Djurgårdens IF and fifth-place SDE HF earlier which seems more like the Grand Canyon right now, but that gap can start to close tomorrow when SDE and Djurgårdens meet. They also meet on January 21, and SDE has three games against teams chasing them between those two dates - one against AIK and two against Linköping HC.

With some solid play and a little help, SDE and Djurgårdens could meet on January 21 with just two points separating the teams assuming that SDE goes on a four-game winning streak starting tomorrow while Djurgårdens hits a cold snap. It's not inconceivable that it could happen, but it starts with one solid game from SDE to end their currently losing streak. Picking up points of any kind over these next four games, however, may prove vital if SDE has any hope of catching Djurgårdens, so Sunday's game will be a big one.

As a fan of the three-point system, this is why regulation wins are so important. If you don't believe me, just take a quick peek at Luleå HF's 18-1-0-0 record that has them sitting comfortably in first-place with 54 points. That's a heckuva streak to start a season, but it has virtually guaranteed that they'll have home-ice advantage throughout the SDHL playoffs... and it's only the beginning of December!

Winning streaks and losing streaks can have profound effects on a team's finish to a season, so make sure you're streaking in the right direction if you're on one. While it's not the end of the world to experience a losing streak, it's always better to be on a winning streak in a three-point system where standings can change dramatically thanks to the point swings. While there can only be one SDHL champion at the end of the season, I'm hoping SDE breaks out of their slump while MoDo and Leksands continue to find ways to win.

No matter what happens this season, though, I'll still be cheering for and watching the former Canada West players on these teams' rosters!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 2 December 2022

TBC: All Roads Home

If there's one thing of which I never seem to have enough, it's time. I have books sitting on a shelf that I simply call my "when I get a minute" shelf, but I never seem to find that minute. However, I decided that it was time to make a dent in that stack of books this month thanks to a recent addition that sounded like it was filled with funny, entertaining stories. In saying that, Teebz's Book Club is proud to review All Roads Home: A Life On and Off the Ice, written by Bryan Trottier and Stephen Brunt and published by Penguin Random House, that chronicles the life and playing career of Bryan Trottier up to this point in his life. As a Trottier fan once he landed in Pittsburgh, I can say that I had a deeper appreciation for his whole career so I was hoping this book would give me even greater insight into his life and his incredible career before playing for the Penguins!

I'm not saying you should know who Bryan Trottier is, but most hockey fans are already aware of his success with the New York Islanders. In any case, his Penguin Random House biography reads, "In 2017, Bryan Trottier was voted one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history. He was born in Val Marie, Saskatchewan, and went on to win seven Stanley Cups (four with the New York Islanders, two with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and one as an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche). He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania." What that bio doesn't say is that he's the most successful Indigenous athlete to have ever played in the NHL based on points and Stanley Cups, and he proudly celebrates his roots as a Cree Metis man.

Stephen Brunt likely needs no introduction from me thanks to his numerous authored books and his work in the Globe & Mail, but his biography from Penguin Random House reads, "Stephen Brunt is an award-winning writer and broadcaster for Sportsnet, and the co-host of The FAN 590's Writers Bloc with Jeff Blair and Richard Deitsch. He is the author of the #1 national bestselling Searching for Bobby Orr and All the Way, with Jordin Tootoo. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario, and in Winterhouse Brook, Newfoundland." Additional works that have been reviewed here on HBIC is Gretzky's Tears which was a look back at the Gretzky trade to Los Angeles, and Burke's Law which is a memoir of Brian Burke's life and work in hockey and all of his most memorable experiences.

I'll mention this upfront, but I was privileged enough to be at the book signing that Bryan Trottier did so reading this book after hearing him tell stories and speak about the book allowed me to read it in his voice. I don't know about you, but I like being able to read the book and "hear" the writer's voice in my head as if he or she is telling the stories directly to me. All Roads Home was seemingly an easier read once I got Trottier's voice in my head, making the stories that much more real in their telling.

While this autobiography's main theme is about hockey, it's fairly clear from the early moments in All Roads Home that family will also play a major role in the telling of Trottier's stories. Whether it be his parents and growing up on the farm as a child in Saskatchewan, the Broncos and Islanders and the "family" that was found those teams, or Trottier's own family where he's a proud father and grandfather. There are many times that Trottier documents where he suffers from homesickness, and most of those times are because he misses his family more than he misses being home.

Of course, as stated, hockey is the central theme in All Roads Home, and that means we get stories about Trottier's first time on the ice, learning to skate and play the game, minor hockey, some of the teams he played on, going to school, and growing up in his hometown of Val Marie, Saskatchewan. Farm life is obviously different than growing up in a town, but it was clear from an early age that Trottier learned the value of hard work and teamwork as his dad and uncles were instrumental in keeping their farm running. Those are lessons that remained with Trottier as hallmarks of his Hall of Fame hockey career.

That hard work led him to skating in the WHL where he became a great teammate with life-long friends such as Dave "Tiger" Williams, Terry Ruskowski, and many others as he skated in WHL cities such as Swift Current and Lethbridge. His hockey talents shone through some of the rough-and-tumble WHL games, and those talents attracted both the WHA's Cincinnati Stingers and New York Islanders in 1974 with the Stingers drafting Trottier 18th overall in the WHA draft while the Islanders used the 22nd pick in the NHL Draft to get Trottier.

One Art Ross Trophy, one Conn Smythe Trophy, and four Stanley Cups with the Islanders later, Trottier got to embark on another new journey as his contract was bought by the Islanders, making him a free agent for the first time in his career. That journey wouldn't last long as he joined the Pittsburgh Penguins and helped them capture a pair of Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992 before moving into the coaching world. A seventh Stanley Cup would follow after joining the Avalanche, but the hockey wasn't the only thing happening in Trottier's life.

As much as we try to minimize it, death, losses, and injuries are a part of life. Trottier goes through a few of these experiences in All Roads Home as he loses his dad and mom while still working in hockey, and he's seen several friendships succumb to the passing of those friends as well. One of the personal ordeals that Trottier faced is with mental health as well, and we know how important mental health is in today's game. Trottier has seen a lot of success, but he also faced a number of challenges over the years that may not have been as public.

One of the guys who Trottier highlights as having his career cut way too short was Islanders teammate Mike Bossy. Trottier attributes the style of game that Bossy played as being part of the reason he retired at age 30, but it's hard to imagine the goal totals Bossy may have had if his body had withstood the beatings it took. Trottier writes,
"In the end, I think Mike's style of play was what broke him down. He paid a heavy price to get into danger zones to score goals. He wasn't a perimeter player. He got some greasy, grimy goals because he went to the ugly areas, too. He wanted to win. And when you get the taste of winning championships, you'll pay a price. And Mike certainly did."
It's hard to imagine a guy with 573 goals retiring at age 30, but Bossy hung up the skates after the 1986-87 season because he simply couldn't do it any longer. His body had taken that beating as Trottier illustrated in order to win four Stanley Cups, and you can understand what Trottier means when you see thirty-something guys gutting out another run for one mort shot at glory. I'm sure Mike Bossy would say the same thing if he hadn't passed away on April 14, 2022.

Overall, All Roads Home is an excellent read with a number of short chapters, so it's easy to put the book down and return to it if you have a busy life like I seem to have. Trottier's stories are funny, entertaining, and very illuminating when it comes to the personal life that Trottier enjoyed away from the lights of the arenas. He holds his teammates, coaches, opponents, fans, and his family in very high regard with the latter taking priority over playing the game, proving that he has his priorities very well defined. Because of all of this, All Roads Home is absolutely deserving of the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

All Roads Home is available at book stores and libraries, and the material contained within the covers is, as mentioned, pretty easy to read. There are a few choice words based on situational moments that Trottier uses, so I'll leave this one up to parents to decide for younger readers as I'm saying it's a PG-rated read. Anyone teenaged or older will enjoy All Roads Home about most successful Indigenous hockey player ever to wear the skates under NHL lights, and I hihgly recommend picking up a copy as a gift for your hockey fan this holiday season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!