Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Rundown - Week 16

With a number of teams still missing stars due to the Universiade Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan, there were opportunities for teams to move up the standings based on results. As you're very aware, nothing comes easy in Canada West women's hockey when it comes to gaining ground, so we'll have to see how the teams fared. The battle for second-place in the conference was up for grabs, there's a three-way race for fourth-place, and one team was looking to wrap up home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs!

CALGARY at MOUNT ROYAL: The kickoff game to the second installment of the Crowchild Classic went on Thursday night as the Dinos and Cougars met at the Scotiabank Saddledome! Mount Royal needed points to creep up on Regina and Saskatchewan while Calgary was looking to play spoiler against their cross-town rivals! It was the home side, however, who got the party started! Nicolette Seper got a stick on a Gabrielle Seper shot at 6:20, and her deflection went over the shoulder of Kelsey Roberts while on the power-play to put Mount Royal up 1-0! A second power-play goal in the first period doubled the Cougars' lead when Shawni Rodeback dented twine off a feed from Kate Hufnagel at 18:13, and the Cougars carried the two-goal lead into the intermission!

The second period saw the two teams trade chances, but neither would find the net. In the third period, Cheyann Newman cut the deficit to one goal when she beat Emma Pincott just 30 seconds in, and we had a brand-new game on our hands at 2-1! Minutes later, the Cougars restored the two-goal lead when Rachel Piitz converted a wraparound past Roberts at 3:18. Emma Pincott was the story of the night, though, as she shut the door on the rest of the Dinos' chances in helping her team to the second Cougars victory on Saddledome ice in five years as Mount Royal took this one 3-1! Pincott made 14 saves in the victory while Roberts stopped 25 shots in the loss.

MOUNT ROYAL at CALGARY: The home-and-home of sorts returned to Calgary's Father David Bauer Arena on Friday. The ice conditions weren't as great as we're used to seeing in the Dinos' den, but they made the most of it on this night. After a scoreless first period, Rachel Paul was awarded a penalty shot after being tripped on a breakaway. After conferring with head coach Danielle Goyette, Paul picked up the puck, broke in on Zoe DeBeauville, and faked a backhand before going upstairs on the forehand past DeBeauville for the 1-0 lead with 46 seconds to play in the middle frame!

The third period saw Paul strike again as she cut through the slot and deflected a Delaney Frey shot past DeBeauville at 11:27 to put Calgary up 2-0! Full credit goes to Kelsey Roberts who had an outstanding game as she kept the Mount Royal shooters at bay all night. Not one puck got past her in the 2-0 Dinos win! Roberts made 21 saves for the shutout victory while DeBeauville stopped 22 shots in the loss.

ALBERTA at LETHBRIDGE: The other "spoiler" team is the Lethbridge Pronghorns, and they were looking to derail the Alberta Pandas in their quest for second-place in the conference. Lindsey Weech, however, would have none of that as she crept in from the point and found the loose puck off a Lisa Lloyd rebound where she flipped it up and over Alicia Anderson at 11:41 for the 1-0 Pandas lead. Lethbridge wasn't about to let that slide. The Pronghorns pushed back through the remainder of the period, and it would be Mattie Apperson who whacked home an Aislinn Kooistra rebound past Lindsey Post with 33 seconds to play, and these two teams would enter the intermission tied at 1-1.

The two teams traded chances early on in the second period, but we'd see a lead grabbed in the late stages. Deanna Morin's pass went off a Mount Royal defender's skate and directly onto the tape of Morgan Burr who had nothing but cage at which to shoot. Burr dented twine for her first USports goal, and the Pandas led 2-1 at 14:50. Morgan Burr suddenly liked this goal-scoring idea, so she went off and did it again! At 6:14 of the third period, Burr converted a Jessie Olfert pass to beat Anderson again, and the Pandas went up 3-1. With Anderson on the bench with over two minutes to play, Ashley Morin hit the empty net to make it 4-1. Sarah Spence would make it a little more respectable with a power-play goal with 16 seconds to play for the Pronghorns, but the Pandas would win this game 4-1 in the end. Post was good on 23 shots for the win while Anderson turned away 29 shots in the loss.

ALBERTA at LETHBRIDGE: There's no denying that Alberta is one of the better teams this season across this nation, but Lethbridge got a dose of reality on Saturday when it came to just how good the Pandas are with their special teams and possession play. Despite the Pandas dominating almost every statistical category in the first period, it would be Lethbridge who jumped out in front when Sarah Spence banked a shot into the net off Pandas netminder Dayna Owen at 13:23 for the opening goal. That score would hold through the intermission.

34 seconds into the second period, Sasha Lutz was sent in on the breakaway on Anderson while shorthanded, and the speedy forward made no mistake going five-hole on the netminder to make it 1-1 - special teams goal #1. Lethbridge would use a power-play to regain the lead when Mackenzie Gal banged home a rebound off a Brett Campbell shot, and the Pronghorns were ahead once more at 3:06. And then they ran into penalty trouble. With a pair of Pronghorns watching from the sin bin, Ashley Morin went five-hole off a rebound on Anderson at 4:30 to make it a 2-2 game. Eight seconds later with the Pandas still on the power-play, Regan Wright put a rebound into the back of the net through the five-hole for a 3-2 Pandas lead as they scored special teams goals #2 and #3! Late in the period, the Pandas were on the power-play once again, and Wright scored her second of the game as she fired a Sasha Lutz rebound high over a sprawled Anderson for the 4-2 Pands lead at 19:07 - special teams goal #4!

The two teams went into the third period looking to add to their goal totals, but Owen and Anderson were equal to the task. Late in the game, Lethbridge pulled Anderson for the extra attacker, and the move worked to their advantage as Delaney Duchek deflected a Mackenzie Gal shot past Owen at 18:46 to make it 4-3 for the Pandas. Owen, however, would allow nothing further as the Pandas used an exceptional night with the special teams to capture the 4-3 victory. Owen stopped ten shots for the victory while Anderson made 21 saves in the loss.

SASKATCHEWAN at MANITOBA: We know that Alberta grabbed six points, so Manitoba had to match if they wanted to hold onto second-place for this week. Saskatchewan was looking to end a losing streak while jumping further ahead of Regina and Mount Royal. The problem? Only one team showed up on Friday night for this game. Jordyn Zacharias continued her torrid pace since moving to the top line in the absence of Alanna Sharman, and she potted a Lauryn Keen feed past Cassidy Hendricks at 3:29. The Bisons controlled most of the period, and continued the same pressure into the second period where Keen found a pinching Megan Neduzak who went high glove-side on Hendricks at the 49-second mark to make it 2-0. Zacharias would hit the scoresheet again when she took a dro-pass from Venla Hovi, made a move around a defender, and tucked home the puck past a stretching Hendricks for a 3-0 lead at 10:35.

Both teams had chances with Saskatchewan hitting a couple of posts on the night, but the third period ticked away until time expired. Saskatchewan couldn't solve Rachel Dyck in finding twine as the netminder pitched her fifth shutout of the season in the 3-0 victory. Dyck made 24 saves for the clean sheet while Hendricks stopped 28 shots in a losing effort.

SASKATCHEWAN at MANITOBA: As in any case, it was expected that Saskatchewan would come out much better on Saturday and we saw that in the first period. The only problem was Rachel Dyck. Despite Saskatchewan playing well, they still couldn't solve the Manitoba netminder. On the other side, Manitoba used a power-play to grab the lead. With Caitlyn Fyten and Karissa Kirkup playing catch on the right side on the power-play, Kirkup spotted Sheridan Oswald sneaking in from the half-boards and hit her with a perfect cross-ice pass that Oswald made no mistake with as she buried the puck at 4:27 for the 1-0 lead. Jordyn Zacharias was in on the action as well as she converted another Lauryn Keen pass into a goal with her shot at 19:06 for the 2-0 Bisons lead.

Early in the second period, the persistent Huskies found pay dirt as Kori Herner broke away from the pack to earn a breakaway on Rachel Dyck, and she made no mistake in going bar-down on the glove-side for the Huskies goal at 2:50 of the second period to make it a 2-1 game. While there weren't any additional goals, there was a historic moment at the 18-minute mark of the second period. Cassidy Hendricks, the goaltender for the Saskatchewan Huskies, set the all-time Canada West record for minutes played in a career. That, folks, is downright impressive, and I want to congratulate Cassidy on an outstanding career!

Unfortunately for Saskatchewan, the Bisons would strike again in the third period. Lauryn Keen drove the puck to the net, got knocked down, and still had the ability to stickhandle the puck in front of the crease until she found an opening through the five-hole past Hendricks for the 3-1 lead at 4:36! Rachel Dyck shut the door the rest of the way despite the Huskies pulling Hendricks for a 6-on-5 opportunity, but it would result in zero gain as Manitoba wins 3-1. Dyck stopped 24 shots in the victory while Hendricks made 25 saves on her record-setting night.

UBC at REGINA: With Saskatchewan losing and Mount Royal gaining points, Regina had an opportunity to jump into fourth-place with at least two points against the Thunderbirds. UBC needed points to secure first-place and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs with Manitoba and Alberta winning, so this series was important to both teams! It was the Cougars who roared out in front in this one. UBC got into penalty trouble, and the Cougars went to work. First, Emma Waldenberger tapped home a Lilla Carpenter-Boesch shot that Amelia Boughn couldn't corral at 15:32 on the man-advantage, and then Melissa Zerr put home a Krista Metz rebound on the power-play at 16:33 as well as the Cougars took a 2-0 lead into the intermission.

The Thunderbirds would get one back on a power-play of their own in the second period. Stephanie Schaupmeyer's blast beat Jane Kishat 4:35 to make it 2-1. Both teams would rally back and forth, but the netminders preserved that 2-1 score through the remainder of the period despite the opportunities.

It was in the third period that the number-one team in the nation came to life, and they did it in spectacular fashion. The first fifteen minutes of the period saw both teams turned aside by the goaltenders. However, the T-Birds caught fire in the last five minutes. Cassandra Vilgrain beat Jane Kish with her shot at 15:33 to make 2-2. Sam Geekie would restore the Regina lead on a breakaway after she beat Boughn on a breakaway at 18:27. But with Bailey Braden in the penalty box with a double-minor, the T-Birds would tie the game with Boughn on the bench. Mathea Fischer made a great pass out front to Logan Boyd, and she ripped a shot past Kish for the 3-3 goal at 19:18!

It looked like we'd be heading to overtime, but UBC wanted none of that. Cassandra Vilgrain threw a pass out in front late in the game as players drove the net, and the puck deflected off a Cougars player's skate and past Jane Kish at 19:50 for the improbable 4-3 win as they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat! Amelia Boughn picked up the win while making 22 saves. Jane Kish was on the losing end in a 14-save effort.

UBC at REGINA: After Friday night's crazy game, things were a little more normal on Saturday. Cassandra Vilgrain opened the scoring on the power-play at 3:07 when she potted an Alexa Ranahan rebound past Jane Kish for the early 1-0 lead. The ice was definitely slanted in UBC's favor as they entered the intermission with the 1-0 lead and a 10-1 lead in shots!

Emma Waldenberger tied the game at 3:43 into the second period. Waldenberger took a pass from Kaitlyn Crowe, deked inside on a defender to find some open space, and went top-shelf on Tori Micklash to even the game at 1-1. The ice was sloped towards the UBC end in this period as Regina scored the only goal, but outshot the T-Birds by a 15-7 margin.

Both teams opened the third period with chances, but it would be another goal with five minutes to play that sealed the deal. On a power-play, UBC's Stephanie Schaupmeyer deflected an Alexa Ranahan shot off the post and in past Jane Kish with 5:07 to play for the 2-1 lead. Regina did everything they could to try and get that one back, including pulling Kish for the extra attacker, but Haneet Parhar would score into the open net with a second remaining for UBC's 3-1 win. Micklash was solid in making 20 saves in the win while Kish suffered the loss in a 23-save effort.

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
British Columbia
64 85 43
vs MRU
56 81 39
56 67 36
vs MAN
38 51 51
vs LET
37 57 60
Mount Royal
33 42 55
14 37 86
vs REG
14 36 86

Ok, so there's bookkeeping to do here. UBC, in gaining all six points this weekend, have earned enough points to guarantee themselves first-place in Canada West. That also means they get home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

Manitoba will travel to Alberta to determine second-place in Canada West. Obviously, both teams are looking to win the majority of the six points available, but they could split which would see tie-breaker rules com into effect. Here's how the tie-breaker rules work.
Since the both Manitoba and Alberta have the same number of wins and losses based on how overtime wins and losses are viewed the same as regulation wins and losses, we'd jump to rule #1 where Alberta holds the tie-breaker. Alberta went into Manitoba and beat them twice on November 18 and 19 for six points. So the only way that Manitoba can finish ahead of Alberta is by winning the weekend series this upcoming weekend. If they split and remain tied, Alberta officially becomes the second seed in Canada West.

Saskatchewan and Regina will battle for home-ice advantage in the battle of Saskatchewan. Regina has to win against Calgary and needs Lethbridge to slow Saskatchewan down in order to have a shot at fourth-place and home-ice advantage. Lethbridge and Calgary legitimately have shots at playing spoilers this weekend for one of these teams depending on wins and losses.

Mount Royal has a stiff test against UBC, but they have an outside shot at catching both Regina and Saskatchewan depending on those tow teams' results. No one ever said it would be easy for the Cougars, but a win over UBC would be a huge momentum boost potentially going into the playoffs against either Alberta or Manitoba.

That, friends, is how Canada West will be won.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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