Sunday, 29 October 2017

The Rundown - Week 4

We're four weeks and eight games in, and we're starting to see some separation in the standings. There's no doubt that there will be a race for first-place in Canada West with the five thoroughbreds that have emerged from the pack, but they'll have to at the top of their games to rise above the other seven teams. As we hit the conference bye week, who finished off the first quarter of the season strongly? Let's check out the action from this past weekend on The Rundown!

LETHBRIDGE at UBC: The Pronghorns went west across the Rockies into Vancouver where they met the first-place UBC Thunderbirds. Lethbridge's Alicia Anderson has been the goaltending story early on this season. Could she power the Pronghorns to another victory? UBC used their home-ice advantage in a big way in the first period, outshooting the Pronghorns 15-4 as they dominated all the statistical categories except goal-scoring. While Anderson held off the T-Birds for the majority of the period, Logan Boyd finally got a puck through the Lethbridge wall on the power-play off an Ireland Perrott pass at 15:38.

The Pronghorns, however, would make good on one of those four shots when Delaney Duchek intercepted a cross-ice pass at the blue line while shorthanded, and she was off to the races. Duchek found some space on Tory Micklash with her shot, and the shorthanded marker tied the game 1-1 at the 19:22 mark!

The second period saw UBC open another wide margin in shots, but it was Anderson who stole the spotlight. Logan Boyd would solve Anderson once more in this period as she drove the net hard, had her initial shot stopped, but corralled the rebound and flipped the puck past Anderson at 14:13 to make it a 2-1 UBC lead! At the end of forty minutes, UBC held the lead on the scoreboard and in shots with a 29-10 advantage.

The third period would be more of the same as UBC continued to throw everything - including a kitchen sink, I believe - at Anderson and the Pronghorns, but Anderson was simply outstanding on this night. If the Pronghorns could have found the back of the net with any of their six shots in the third period, this would have been anyone's game. In the end, both Micklash and Anderson posted a clean period, and that left UBC standing at the final horn with a 2-1 victory. Micklash made 15 saves in the win while Anderson stopped 41 shots in the loss!

LETHBRIDGE at UBC: Game Two went on Saturday, and there was a chance for head coach Graham Thomas to hit a major milestone with his 100th Canada West regular season win! Of course, the Pronghorns wanted to delay that celebration for at least one more week. The Birds would give their head coach a lead at 9:07 when Kathleen Cahoon picked up a loose puck in the slot and fired a shot past Alicia Anderson for the 1-0 lead. There wouldn't be any other goals in the period as Anderson was simply jaw-dropping again on Saturday in making 17 saves in the opening frame as UBC posted an 18-4 shot advantage.

The second period saw the two teams work on their power-plays as Lethbridge went oh-fer-five in the period while UBC went oh-fer-three. The shot totals also evened out with the extensive extra player time, but there would be no goals as the two teams sent ten shots each on the opposition's goalie in the middle frame.

Lethbridge literally took the game to UBC for the first time in the third period, but Amelia Boughn was having none of it as she rejected all ten shots she saw. In saying that, Lethbridge couldn't find the twine on Saturday, and the UBC Thunderbirds came away with the 1-0 victory! Boughn was perfect on all 24 shots she faced for the shutout win while Anderson stopped 30 of 31 shots in the loss.

CALGARY at SASKATCHEWAN: The Dinos went east in the search of points against a Huskies team that has been in every game they've played this season. And it seemed that these two teams had one another figured out for about fifty minutes, but it would be the final ten minutes where one team made its push.

The ice was definitely slanted towards the Dinos' end in the first two periods as Saskatchewan built a 33-6 advantage in shots. Kelsey Roberts was ridiculous in the Calgary net, denying chance after chance and wave after wave of the Huskies' attack. The fact that the Huskies couldn't solve her in the first forty minutes shows just how good Roberts has been for the Dinos this season with her sub-2.00 GAA and nearly .950 save percentage.

In the third period, the Huskies would finally break the stalemate. Kaitlin Willoughby's shot was kicked aside by Roberts, but Kira Bannatyne picked up the rebound and reached across the net to slide home the puck before Roberts could recover at 10:26, giving Saskatchewan the 1-0 lead. Six minutes later, Bailee Bourassa would be stopped on her initial shot on a partial breakaway, but she tucked her own rebound past Roberts on her left at 16:07 to make it a 2-0 game. Kori Herner would deposit the puck into an empty net with 28 seconds to play as the Dinos had pulled Roberts for the extra attacker, but they wouldn't solve Jasey Book on this night as Saskatchewan took this game by a 3-0 score. Book stopped all 13 shots for the shutout victory while Roberts deserved a better fate after stopping 43 of 45 shots she faced on Friday. Highlights are below!

CALGARY at SASKATCHEWAN: I don't know what was happening in this game, but the Calgary Dinos only dressed fifteen players, including freshman third-string netminder Kira Wasylak - the only goalie dressed for the Dinos on this day. If there's illness running through the Dinos' dressing room, getting the conference bye next week might just be what the doctor ordered.

It didn't take long for the Huskies to open the scoring in this one. Kennedy Harris and Bailee Bourassa broke in on a two-on-one early, and Kennedy went high glove-side on Wasylak to open the scoring just 1:04 into the game. The rookie, however, would settle down as Wasylak stopped the next ten shots in a row to keep the game at 1-0 through twenty minutes of play despite the Dinos being outshot 11-4.

Not surprisingly, the Dinos would play a very conservative game with just fourteen players on the bench. They certainly weren't going to outshoot the Huskies, but it should be noted that the Dinos did everything they could to help Wasylak over the final 58:52. Saskatchewan would outshoot the Dinos by a 40-12 margin over those 58 minutes, but that very first shot that got by Wasylak would be the difference on this night as Saskatchewan got past a Herculean effort by the fifteen dressed Dinos in a 1-0 win. Chloe Marshall earned the shutout in stopping all 12 shots she faced while Wasylak's trial-by-fire saw her stop 40 of 41 shots sent her way.

MANITOBA at MOUNT ROYAL: The Bisons stampeded into Calgary to take on the Cougars. With Manitoba having split each of their first three weekend series, they were looking for some consistency in winning a pair of games on one weekend. Mount Royal, having found some traction against Lethbridge a week before, wanted to begin the climb up the standings by putting the Bisons on the defensive. Manitoba, though, would use their top-ranked power-play to get themselves going on Friday as Jordy Zacharias teed a puck up from the point that only glanced off Zoe DeBeauville's glove before bulging the twine at 12:09 for the 1-0 lead. The Cougars would use a power-play of their own minutes later to draw even. Rachel Piitz spotted Kate Hufnagel in the slot, and her pass was redirected by Hufnagel through Rachel Dyck's five-hole at 15:42 to make it 1-1.

The second period saw the seesaw battle continue as it appeared Piitz was about to give the Cougars the lead on a breakaway, but Rachel Dyck made an outstanding glove save as she reached back to prevent the puck from sliding across the goal line. This seemed to spark the Bisons. Lauryn Keen forced a turnover at center ice and she streaked back into the Cougars' zone where she unleashed a slapshot that found room between DeBeauville and the post to pit Manitoba up 2-1 at the 13:16 mark. The Cougars, though, wouldn't go away. Nicollette Seper made a great move to split the defence and get a shot away, but it was stopped by Dyck. Sepercollected her rebound, though, and slid the puck under Dyck to make it a 2-2 game at 15:44.

For an undisclosed reason, Lauren Taraschuk came out to the blue paint for Manitoba to start the third period. The Bisons were intent on reclaiming the lead, and their pressure was rewarded. Jordy Zacharias found Alanna Sharman who one-timed a blast past DeBeauville at 6:55, and Zacharias got her second of the night six minutes later when she finished off a sweet play with a gorgeous backhand goal at 12:26 to put Manitoba out in front 4-2. Despite a late Nicollette Seper goal with 58 seconds to play, the Cougars couldn't find an equalizer on this night as the Bisons skated to a 4-3 win. Lauren Taraschuk earned the win in her one period of play by stopping five of six shots she faced while Zoe DeBeauville made 18 saves in the loss. For those keeping track at home, Rachel Dyck stopped six of eight shots she faced in her forty minutes in the blue paint.

MANITOBA at MOUNT ROYAL: Saturday's affair started off with some incredible end-to-end action as both teams appeared to want to grab control in this game. While Manitoba had a couple of glorious opportunities, Mount Royal seemed a little off as they failed to put a lot of pressure on Manitoba starter Lauren Taraschuk. The Bisons would finally convert one of their chances while on the power-play when Venla Hovi teed up a slap shot that went in off the post past Zoe DeBeauville at 19:52 for the 1-0 lead!

From that point on, both goaltenders put up walls in their respective nets. DeBeauville stopped another twelve shots over the next forty minutes while Taraschuk stopped an additional 13 shots to go along with the three saves she made in the first period. When the final buzzer sounded, Taraschuk had backstopped the Bisons to a 1-0 win! As stated above, Taraschuk stopped 16 shots for her first U SPORTS shutout while Zoe DeBeauville made twenty stops in the loss.

REGINA at ALBERTA: In the big series of the weekend, the top-ranked Alberta Pandas hosted the Regina Cougars in a battle for second-place in Canada West. If you were looking for up-tempo, end-to-end action, these two teams didn't disappoint. Alberta's Dayna Owen and Regina's Jane Kish were each up to the task through the first two periods as they battled to a scoreless draw through forty minutes with Kish stopping 12 shots and Owen making 23 saves.

The third period saw Alberta strike on the power-play when Amy Boucher picked up her own centering pass and fired a shot past Kish's glove as she was falling to put Alberta up 1-0 at the 3:32 mark.
Regina would find the tying goal five minutes later when Tamara McVannel tipped a Sarah Hornoi's shot past Owen at 8:37. The Pandas would respond again often a beautiful cross-ice pass from Kennedy Ganzer to Abby Benning at 10:41.
These Cougars, though, haven't stopped playing all season, and Friday was no different. With a mad scramble happening around Owen, Emma Waldenberger used her long reach to find a puck in the crease and whack home the tying goal with just 39 seconds to play! Waldenberger's goal also sent this game off to some free hockey, but nothing would be solved in the four-on-four period. The same results were found in the three-on-three period, so we'd need a skills competition to find the extra point!

In the opening round of the shootout, Kennedy Ganser's attempt was stopped, but Regina's Kylie Kupper found the twine to give Regina the lead. Both Hannah Olenyk and Emma Waldenberger were stopped in the second round, so it was up to Amy Boucher. Boucher made a deke that Kish stayed with the entire way, giving Regina the 3-2 shootout win! Kish made 26 saves plus three more in the skills competition for the win while Owen stopped 43 shots plus one more in the shootout loss.

REGINA at ALBERTA: After Friday's game, what else could these two teams bring to the table? Playoff hockey in Week Four isn't something we usually see! Alberta got the ball rolling late in the first period in this game. Kennedy Ganser appeared to pick up a puck that Alex Poznikoff overskated, and she surprised Jane Kish with a quick shot that snuck between her left arm and body to give Alberta the 1-0 lead at 17:14.

The only goal of the second period came late in the frame. Alberta couldn't clear their zone, allowing Mariah McKersie to skate the puck into the right face-off circle where she wristed a shot on net. Jordan Kulbida got her stick loose in front of Kirsten Chamberlin, and her deflection knocked the puck past the Alberta netminder to even the game at 1-1 at the 15:43 mark!

In the third period, the Pandas went to work on a two-player advantage midway through the period. Kennedy Ganser skated the puck from the left point to the middle of the ice, fired a blast on net that Kish stopped, but Deanna Morin was in perfect position to whack home the rebound to give Alberta a 2-1 lead at 13:06. Again, these Cougars would net a late goal to not allow the Pandas to grab three points, albeit this of the lucky variety. Bailey Braden's slap shot on the power-play was going to go wide of the net on the far side, but the puck hit Alberta defender Morgan Kelly in front of the net and redirected into the Alberta net at 17:47 to tie the game at 2-2!

In the second-straight game with extra time, we wouldn't need to wait very long for a winner to be scored on this night. In he first overtime period, Alex Poznikoff chipped the puck past Mackenzie Hutchinson at the Regina blue line, sending her in alone on Kish. she made a quick forehand-backhand deke to open up Kish's five-hole, and slid the puck between the netminder's legs at 1:48 of overtime for the 3-2 win! Chamberlin stopped 23 shots in the overtime victory while Kish stopped 32 shots in helping the Cougars grab a point in this game. Highlights of the game are below!

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
British Columbia
18 20 12
16 20 13
16 17 12
15 21 20
15 21 19
7 9 12
Mount Royal
5 12 21
4 3 14

As you can see above, there is a bit of a jam at the top of the standings as three points - one regulation win - separate first-place from fifth-place. While the top-five teams pull away from the bottom-three teams, it will be interesting to see who comes out of the conference bye week with a little fire under their skates. We'll look at the November schedule next week on The Rundown as these eight teams begin to figure out where they will either play or watch the Canada West playoffs!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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