Sunday, 3 December 2017

The Rundown - Week 9

It's the final week of the first-half of the Canada West women's hockey schedule, and everyone is jockeying for positions in the standings as the December break starts. Alberta and UBC are hunting down Manitoba, Saskatchewan is trying to remain among the top-four teams, Regina is chasing down their provincial rivals, Lethbridge and Calgary are battling for the sixth-place spot, and Mount Royal is looking to rally to push those two teams. The action would be highlighted by another clash of top teams as UBC visited Manitoba this week, so we'll break down all these games today on The Rundown!

SASKATCHEWAN at REGINA: Friday's night game went in Regina where the Huskies and Cougars met for the third time this season. The week and the game started off well for Regina's Martina Maskova. After being named to the Czech national team for the Four Nations tournament held in the Czech Republic in December, Maskova opened the scoring just 2:32 into the game when she picked up a deflected centering from Jordan Kulbida and went high over Chloe Marshall on the backhand to put the Cougars up 1-0!
That goal was Maskova's first Canada West goal in her career! The two teams would continue to battle through the remaining 17 minutes of the period, but Maskova's goal was the only one in the frame as Regina went to the intermission up 1-0!

Saskatchewan came out in the second period looking far more dangerous and aggressive, but a penalty midway through the period would cost the Huskies. Jaycee Magwood fed Tamara McVannel at the point, and her wrist shot towards the net caromed off of a player in front and found the seam through Marshall's legs for a power-play goal at 11:45 to put the Cougars up 2-0. Despite Saskatchewan outshooting Regina 10-6 in the middle stanza, the Cougars carried the 2-0 lead through to the third period!

In the final period, Jane Kish was outstanding, making save after save in stymieing the Huskies time and time again. There's a reason why she's one of the top goalies as she squared up to Saskatchewan shooters and staring them down. The Huskies outshot the Cougars 12-4 in the third period, but nothing would find the net behind Kish on this night as the Cougars earned the 2-0 shutout win! Kish stopped all 31 shot she saw on this night for her third clean sheet of the season while Chloe Marshall made 17 stops in the loss.

REGINA at SASKATCHEWAN: The inter-provincial battle would move north on Highway 11 for Saturday's clash between the visiting Cougars and the hometown Huskies. It would be Regina who answered the bell in the first period in this game as they blitzed Jessica Vance with 16 pucks on net, but Vance would stand tall in keeping them out. At the other end, Jane Kish only needed to make eight saves as the two teams remained scoreless after one period.

Whatever was said during the intermission by head coach Steve Kook fired the Huskies up because, just as they did on Friday, they came out as the more aggressive team in the second period. It seemed like Kish had an answer for every Huskies shot once more, but Saskatchewan would finally break through on a power-play. Emily Upgang found Kaitlin Willoughby for a one-timer that was kicked out by Kish. However, the rebound fell out in front of Kish and Willoughby pounced on it, jamming it home stick-side on Kish at 11:50 for the power-play marker and the 1-0 lead! Saskatchewan would still control the pace after the goal, but the horn would sound to end the second period with Saskatchewan leading 1-0!

The third period saw both teams kept to the outside as Regina led in shots 6-4. Saskatchewan was effective at not letting Regina find the middle of the ice, and Jessica Vance took care of all the pucks sent her way. When the final horn sounded, Vance and the Huskies had returned the shutout favour in the 1-0 victory. Vance made 27 saves in recording her third shutout of the season while Kish took the loss in a 23-save performance.

LETHBRIDGE at CALGARY: With Lethbridge having a one-point advantage over Calgary in the battle for sixth-place and the final playoff spot, the results of this series could loom large when all is finally said and done this season. Lethbridge looked like the stronger team in the opening period as the Pronghorns took the game to Kelsey Roberts and the Dinos. The only problem? Roberts was equal to the task. Despite being outshot 13-6 in the opening period by Lethbridge, Calgary weathered the storm to go into the intermission in a scoreless draw.

We would see a goal in the second period. Kate Lumley picked up a blocked shot and made a drop-pass to Katie Duncan. Duncan made a move around a Pronghorns defender and wristed a shot top-corner on Alicia Anderson at 5:41!
That goal would be Duncan's first career goal in Canada West, and she put her team up 1-0! The Pronghorns would come on late in the period as they surged back against the Dinos, but Roberts made two outstanding saves to keep this game 1-0 in Calgary's favour through two periods of play!

The third period was far more wide open as both teams looked to strike. End-to-end action saw prolonged bouts of pressure in the offensive zone by both teams, but Roberts and Anderson kept the doors shut. Coach Michelle Janus would pull Anderson with 2:15 to play as she tried to give her team some additional firepower with the extra attacker, but Roberts and the Calgary defence stood tall on this night as Roberts picked up her conference-leading fifth shutout with the 1-0 victory! Roberts stopped all 30 shots she faced in pitching the clean sheet while Anderson stopped 19 of 20 shots in the loss.

CALGARY at LETHBRIDGE: The two teams would head south on Highways 2, 518, 23, and 3 in traveling just over two hours to Lethbridge for the Saturday clash to finish off the home-and-home series and the first-half of the Canada West schedule. We'd see a goal early in this one. Chelsea Court was sent in on Alicia Anderson on a partial breakaway, and Anderson stopped her with her right pad. However, Kate Lumley followed up the shot by whacking home the rebound just 3:40 into the game!
With Calgary leading 1-0, Lethbridge pushed back, but the Dinos' defence wasn't breaking. Brett Campbell would clang one off the crossbar behind Roberts, but it wouldn't go in. That would be the only puck to get by Roberts in the opening twenty minutes, though, as Calgary went into the intermission with the one-goal lead.

The second period started much kinder to the home side as Lethbridge found the equalizer before the midpoint of the period. Tricia Van Vaerenbergh found Mackenzie Gal at the point in the Calgary zone, and her shot eluded the bodies in front of Roberts to find twine high on the blocker side to pull the Pronghorns even at 1-1 at 8:24. That score would last for 6:30 until Delaney Frey knocked home her own rebound at 14:54.
Frey's goal restored the one-goal lead for Calgary, but they weren't done in this period just yet. Paige Michalenko spotted Sage Desjardins on the backdoor, and she scored on a five-on-three power-play.
Desjardins' power-play marker at 18:11 sent the teams to the second intermission with Calgary leading 3-1 on the scoreboard and 18-17 in shots!

The third period saw another Lethbridge blitz on the Dinos, but Roberts and the improving defensive play of Calgary did the same thing they did on Friday in stymieing the Pronghorns. Roberts made an outstanding save on Olivia Alexander that is one of the best I've seen this season, and the Dinos skated to the 3-1 victory despite being outshot 10-3 in the final frame! Roberts picked up another win with her 26-save effort while Alicia Anderson took the loss while stopping 18 shots.

MOUNT ROYAL at ALBERTA: The number-one ranked team in the nation hosted Canada West's last-place team on Friday night, and I know what you're thinking already: mismatch. Things didn't start well for the Alberta-based Cougars either. Alberta carried the play in the first period, and they struck midway through the period. Kennedy Ganzer took down a Mount Royal defender, allowing Alex Poznikoff to pick up the loose puck and fire a cross-ice pass that found Abby Benning. Benning fired a wrist shot from just above the hash marks on the right side that beat Zoe DeBeauville high on the glove side at 11:23 to put Alberta up 1-0! The four shots that Dayna Owen faced in the first period had very little chance of beating the netminder, so it was a solid period of hockey from the home side at both ends of the rink as Alberta led 1-0 after one period.

The two teams would play a much better period in the second period as Mount Royal's offence showed signs of life, but they still struggled to find seams in the Alberta defence to mount a lot of offence. In any case, Alberta outshot Mount Royal 9-7 in the middle frame, but it remained a one-goal game after forty minutes.

Early in the third period, Alberta would double their lead. Off an initial Jacky Normandeau shot that DeBeauville stopped, she also made a great save off Hannah Olenyk on the rebound. However, the third attempt by Autumn MacDougall found its way through DeBeauville and into the net at 1:31 to put Alberta up 2-0!

Six minutes later, Mount Royal cut the deficit to one goal off a face-off. Kennedy Bozek won the face-off cleanly to her right where Erin MacLean redirected it to the point off her skate. The redirected puck came to Mairi Sorensen, and her point shot was blocked. However, Bozek snapped the blocked shot past the Alberta defender and past Dayna Owen at 7:24 to make it 2-1! Alberta, though, would close out the game with MacDougall and Poznikoff on a two-on-one. MacDougall attempted a pass across to Poznikoff that Sorensen got her stick on, but DeBeauville had already slid across in anticipation of the pass to Poznikoff and the puck slid with Sorensen into the yawning cage at 17:11 to give Alberta the 3-1 victory. Owen made 15 saves in the victory while DeBeauville stopped 26 shots in the loss. Highlights of this game are below!

ALBERTA at MOUNT ROYAL: Both teams headed south on Highway 2 to Calgary where the Cougars would play host to the Pandas at Flames Community Arena as the back-half of the home-and-home to finish off the first-half of the schedule. If you were basing this game on Friday's results, let's just say you were in for a surprise. The Cougars got on the board at 8:06 when Kennedy Bozek's centering pass deflected off Lindsay Weech's leg and past Kirsten Chamberlin for the 1-0 lead. Despite outshooting Mount Royal 13-7 and dominating the Cougars at times, the Pandas found themselves down a goal at the end of the period.

Alberta continued the relentless attack early in the second period on a pair of power-plays, but the Cougars weathered the storm. It looked like DeBeauville might be in some trouble midway through the period when Amy Boucher ripped a slap shot off her mask, but she was back on her feet a few minutes later after shaking off the blast. That seemed to spark Mount Royal as they went to the power-play shortly thereafter. Anna Purschke's shot from the slot was stopped by Chamberlin, but Tatum Amy was on the doorstep to tap in the rebound at 13:00 for the power-play goal and the 2-0 lead! Despite being outshot 24-15, Mount Royal owned a two-goal lead through forty minutes!

A two-goal lead seemed to give Mount Royal confidence as they came flying out of the intermission. Alberta took an early penalty, and the Cougars went back to work on the power-play. Channia Alexander's shot was stopped, but Chamberlin couldn't corral the rebound and a scramble ensued. Rachel Piitz would eventually jam the puck past Chamberlin at 4:22 on the power-play, and the Cougars were up three goals. Alberta head coach Howie Draper was looking for an edge and pulled his goalie on a power-play with over five minutes to play, but it would be Kennedy Bozek who iced the game with her shorthanded, empty-net goal at 15:05 to send the Cougars into the break with a 4-0 victory! Zoe DeBeauville made 34 stops for her second shutout of the season while Chamberlin was on the losing end of a 22-save performance.

UBC at MANITOBA: The second-ranked team in the nation, the UBC Thunderbirds, traveled to the easternmost city in Canada West to visit the fourth-ranked team in the nation in the Manitoba Bisons. The anticipation at the Manitoba campus for this game was pretty high as these two potential Canada West finalists met for their second series of the season. While both teams are among the highest scoring teams in the conference, this game was more about the defences as they really limited shots and chances at both ends of the ice. The first penalty of the game came at the 9:00 mark to the Bisons, and the T-Birds used a rare power-play opportunity to strike. Alexa Ranahan's point shot from the middle of the ice was stopped by Lauren Taraschuk's right leg with all sorts of traffic in front of her, but the rebound came right to Brielle Bellerive who kicked it to the blade of her stick and slid it under Taraschuk as she was moving at 10:42 to put the Thunderbirds up 1-0! Tory Micklash denied all five Manitoba chances in the first frame, and the T-Birds took their lead to the locker room after twenty minutes.

The second period featured more stifling defence as the two teams combined for just seven shots over the twenty-minute frame. Micklash was outstanding in the UBC net as she squared up to shooters, controlled rebounds effectively, and smothered rebounds with the help of her defence keeping the front of the net clear of Bisons. While Manitoba did put five pucks on Micklash, the UBC netminder seemed to have little trouble with any of the shots.

The third period featured a little more offence as the Bisons opened up their play a little to try and push for the equalizer. UBC used some of this extra space on the ice to test Taraschuk nine times, but the rookie netminder would have none of those shots get past her. With the Bisons pressing, head coach Jon Rempel pulled Taraschuk in favour of the extra attacker with two minutes to play, but UBC would find the empty net twice as Emily Costales and Celine Tardif prevented any comeback on this night with goals. At the final horn, UBC prevailed in a 3-0 shutout win! Micklash was solid in stopping all 16 shots she faced for her first shutout of the season in helping snap the Bisons' nine-game winning streak while Taraschuk took the loss in a 15-save performance.

UBC at MANITOBA: Despite the two late empty-net goals scored the night before, the chess match between the T-Birds and the Bisons on Friday set up Saturday's game as Manitoba needed a win at Wayne Fleming Arena to split with UBC and retain their hold on first-place in Canada West. If Manitoba had any chance of earning the split, though, they'd have to find a way to beat Tory Micklash! Just like Friday's game, this one was more of a chess match as the two teams tried to find seams to get their offences going. It would take the special teams to finally crack Micklash midway through the period. Erica Rieder's shot was stopped by Micklash on the power-play, but Lauren Warkentin snuck in from the right face-off circle and snapped the rebound home at 11:20!
Warkentin's first Canada West goal in her career put the Bisons up 1-0! UBC would use their own power-play to strike back minutes later. Hannah Clayton-Carroll somehow got just enough on a shot to get it past Rachel Dyck for puck to just inch across the goal line, but it fully crossed the line at 14:44 and the T-Birds pulled even at 1-1! Despite chances in the final five minutes for both side, this game would head into the intermission at 1-1.

The second period saw Manitoba start to figure out the UBC defensive zone as they began getting more pucks and bodies to the net, but Micklash refused to allow anything by her. In the Manitoba end, Dyck was less busy than Micklash, but she too denied all chances. In fact, despite Manitoba outshooting UBC 17-7 through the second and third periods, this game was dominated by the goaltenders as Micklash and Dyck denied chances after chance through the final two periods. And you know what that means, right? FREE HOCKEY!

In the overtime period, Brielle Bellerive buried Alana Serhan into the boards in the corner, and she was given a seat in the sin bin for two minutes to reflect upon her illegal bodycheck. On the Manitoba four-on-three power-play, this happened.
Some good movement at the top of the power-play unit between Hovi and Rieder got the UBC triangle moving, and Hovi's one-timer from Sharman went directly below the crossbar for the overtime winner at the 2:00 mark as Manitoba takes the second game by a 2-1 score! Rachel Dyck stopped 12 shots for her fourth win in a row while Micklash stopped 25 shots in the overtime defeat.

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
34 38 29
British Columbia
31 35 25
30 37 29
28 26 23
21 27 31
20 17 23
15 18 24
Mount Royal
13 22 36

The Final Word

You know what? Today's Final Word isn't going to be an examination of the players or stats or teams or anything like that. Instead, I want to say thank you to a number of people who made the first-half of the Canada West season so enjoyable for me.

To my broadcast partner, TJ Phillips: you're going to be a broadcast legend one day. Thanks for being the voice of the Bisons women's hockey team for the last few years, for being a sounding board to my analyses and colour commentary, and for making this gig so much fun!

To the Manitoba Bisons: thanks for giving us the opportunity to call your games, the time for interviews, the exciting action, and the fun we have at the rink. It is truly an honour and a blessing to be able to call games all season long, and we'd be nothing without your hard work, dedication, and abilities. Thank you!

To Sports Information Director, Chris Zuk: thanks for putting up with our quirks and requests. You allow us to speak to the Bisons women's hockey team each week with no issues, and your interviews done on This Week In Bisons Sports and at the press conferences are invaluable to our broadcasts! Thanks, Chris!

To Ryan Stelter and Jason Pchajek of The Manitoban: thank you for coming on the intermission reports and delivering great news and insight into Bisons women's hockey and hockey in general. You guys are an invaluable resource on our broadcasts, and the university newspaper is lucky to have a couple of hard-working, dedicated, passionate reporters writing outstanding pieces for them. Thanks for everything, gents!

To the Mount Royal Cougars, Lethbridge Pronghorns, Calgary Dinos, Regina Cougars, Saskatchewan Huskies, Alberta Pandas, and UBC Thunderbirds: we've seen some of you this season at Wayne Fleming Arean while others will visit in the second-half of the season, but thank you to all of you for making this the most memorable first-half of hockey in recent memory. Your coaches and athletes are exceptional people both on and off the ice, and I love seeing the stories about them on social media! Thanks for being great teams with fantastic people!

To the parents and fans of the Manitoba Bisons: keep bringing the noise! Wayne Fleming Arena sounds like BellMTS Centre when the old barn is rocking! Your support of these players and this team mean the world, and we're happy to lend a voice to those who can't be in attendance. Thank you for your ongoing support of these amazing student-athletes!

It's been a fabulous first-half of hockey, and I'm already excited for January! I'll be taking the next couple of weeks off from The Rundown with no hockey being played, but I may still runa few features with the Bisons women's hockey team depending on schedules. Stay tuned for that here on HBIC!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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