Sunday, 13 January 2019

The Rundown - Week 10

If there's one group of people I need to congratulate in looking at this week's schedule of games in Canada West women's hockey, it's the schedule makers. With the points earned last weekend in the conference, this weekend's games could spell doom for some while giving others the security of a playoff spot if they could find wins. With every point mattering for seven of eight teams at this juncture of the season, playoff spots will likely be a major theme for the remainder of the season for the seven teams in contention. With that being said, let's see how this week affected the playoff picture on The Rundown!

FRIDAY: In what may have been the biggest series when it came to determining quarterfinal byes, UBC headed northeast over the mountains into Edmonton to meet the Alberta Pandas. UBC needed points to hunt down Manitoba while Alberta was looking to put more space between them and everyone else while claiming the first playoff spot. Dayna Owen got the call for the Pandas as they continued their three-goalie rotation while Tory Micklash was sent to the UBC net.

Just as they always do, Alberta came out ready to play and largely controlled home ice in the opening frame. Chances were had by the Pandas, but Micklash turned aside all eight shots she faced while Owen made three stops in a period were she didn't face a lot of tests. After 20 minutes, it was still 0-0 on the scoreboard.

The second period was more of the same as Alberta controlled most of the period, but one of the two shots recorded by UBC would find the twine. Madison Patrick fired a shot in on Owen which the netminder kicked aside, but Ashley McFadden was in the right spot to pot the rebound as UBC went ahead 1-0 at 8:58! Despite putting seven more pucks on Micklash, she kept her net clear of pucks through 40 minutes as UBC went to the third period with the one-goal lead!

It likely doesn't need top be said, but Micklash went ballistic in the third period as she shut the door time and again on the Pandas. UBC certainly found a few more chances, but Owen continued to keep Alberta within a goal with her play. However, Celine Tardif would cap this game off with an empty-net goal with 34 seconds to play as Micklash stoned the Pandas in the 2-0 victory! Tory Micklash made 27 saves to record her ninth win and fourth shutout while Owen made ten stops in the loss.

Highlight are below!

SATURDAY: For as rare as losses are for the Pandas at Clare Drake Arena, you knew they were going to come back with some fire in their bellies on Saturday. UBC, not wanting to mess with a winning setup, started Tory Micklash for the second day in a row while the Pandas came back with rookie extraordinaire Halle Oswald in an all-Manitoba goaltending match-up.

Just like the night before, the opening period saw no goals recorded largely due to Micklash's incredible netminding as she turned aside all seven shots sent her way. Oswald was far less busy as she only had two pucks to handle, but she too was perfect on both shots. Through 20 minutes, the score remained 0-0.

The middle frame showed more stalemate hockey, but it would be an Alberta penalty that triggered the first goal. Alex Poznikoff went for a skate while shorthanded, and her rush ended with a high shot that went up and over the short side on Micklash to put the Pandas up 1-0 at 13:12! Another Alberta penalty two minutes later would see the team with the advantage strike back as UBC's Rylind MacKinnon loaded up a wrist shot from the point that danced its way through traffic past a screen Oswald to find the back of the net at 16:03 to tie the game 1-1! The final four minutes of the period would go scoreless as we moved to the third period tied at one goal apiece!

The third period was a defensive battle as it appeared that neither side wanted to win as much as they were preventing a loss. Alberta held the advantage in shots with a 4-3 margin, but both Micklash and Oswald weren't interested in allowing a goal, so we were treated to free hockey with the game tied 1-1 at the end of regulation time!

Four-on-four overtime? Solved nothing.
Three-on-three overtime? Solved nothing.
Shootout? Found a winner!

Mathea Fischer would put UBC up in the shootout in Round One with a dangle that nearly caused me to pull a muscle as I watched, but Kennedy Ganser would tie the shootout up in Round Two. In Round Three, UBC's Emma Hall would be stopped as Alberta's Amy Boucher stepped to center ice.
Boucher's goal would send Alberta to the 2-1 shootout victory! Halle Oswald earned her sixth win of the season with her 12-save effort while Micklash was brilliant in the shootout loss as she stopped 27 shots.

Highlights from the game are below!

FRIDAY: While one could describe this series as the battle of the bottom-dwellers in Canada West, the reality is that Lethbridge has a legitimate shot at making the Canada West playoffs for the first time if they can continue gathering points. Calgary literally needed to win to remain relevant, and any losses this weekend would ultimately force them into the spoiler role. Alicia Anderson started for Lethbridge while Kelsey Roberts was tasked with Calgary's netminding in the first half of this home-and-home series.

The first period saw both teams come out firing as the Dinos opened the game with an early volley before the Pronghorns went the other way and peppered Roberts. Despite Calgary outshooting the Pronghorns by a 14-8 margin through the opening frame, Anderson and Roberts kept all shooters off the scoresheet as the game moved to the second period tied at 0-0.

After the teams traded early power-play chances, the Dinos would finally solve Anderson midway through the frame. Calgary won a face-off in the offensive zone back to Delaney Frey, and she went over Anderson's shoulder inside the far post at 10:10 to put Calgary up 1-0! Minutes late, Lethbridge would be whistled for a penalty, and the Dinos would strike again. Carley Wlad would be the beneficiary of a weird bounce off the crossbar and off the glass behind Anderson from a Dana Wood shot as Wlad banged home the rebound at 14:47 to put the Dinos up 2-0! The Pronghorns could not solve Roberts for a second-straight period, and we'd head to the third period with Calgary holding the two-goal lead and a 26-17 advantage in shots.

Early in the third, the Pronghorns would finally break the goose egg. Meg Dyer ricocheted a pass off the boards to Katie Breitkreuz, and Breitkreuz went shelf over Roberts' blocker at 1:38 to make it a 2-1 game! Minutes later, the Dinos would restore the two-goal margin as Rachel Paul went end-to-end, weaving around Pronghorns until before backhanding a shot high over Anderson's glove to make it 3-1 at 6:33! The Pronghorns continued to press as time wound down, but were thwarted by Roberts as we neared the final horn. A late scramble with all sorts of traffic in front of Roberts saw Jodi Gentile pick up the loose puck and snipe it home on the left side as Roberts was down and out on the right, and Lethbridge trailed 3-2 with 1:33 to play.

Following the goal, the Pronghorns called their time-out, pulled Anderson, and sent six attackers out to see if they could extend this game. 22 seconds after the face-off, Ashley McCabe found Jordan Doram all alone in front of Roberts, and Doram zipped the puck between Roberts' legs to tie the game 3-3 at 18:49 in a rather unbelievable sequence of events! Neither team would find the net in the final 1:11, and we'd go to overtime to find a winner!

The four-on-four overtime period featured more quality goaltending as neither team could find the back of the nets, so we'd move to double-overtime and three-on-three play. Midway through the second overtime period, a shot by Katie Breitkreuz was stopped by Roberts, but Tricia Van Vaerenbergh came thundering in for the rebound, knocking the net off its moorings and the puck into the net. After a delay, officials determined the net had come off its pegs before the puck went in, and the goal was waved off as these two teams went back to work. However, it would be moments later when Van Vaerenbergh would truly end the game, beating Roberts with her shot with 35 seconds to play to give Lethbridge the 4-3 double-overtime win! Alicia Anderson picked up her sixth win by making 40 saves on the night while Roberts stopped 39 shots in the loss.

SATURDAY: The series would move slightly north for the back half of the home-and-home as the Pronghorns traveled to Calgary. The same story held true as the night before - Lethbridge needed points to track down Mount Royal and Regina in the standings while Calgary was looking to avoid being all but eliminated from the playoffs. Kelsey Roberts and Alicia Anderson would square off in the nets in a rematch from Friday's battle.

The teams traded chances early on, but it would be Lethrbidge who decided that scoring a little earlier than the third period might be beneficial. Eryn Johanson corralled a pass from Mattie Apperson and cut across the left face-off circle into the slot, opening up Roberts' five-hole as she moved laterally where Johanson slipped the puck n the backhand for the game's opening goal at 9:05! Calgary would respond minutes later on a 5-on-3 power-play when a Paige Michaelenko shot was kicked out by Anderson, but Laine Grace snuck in off the left side of the umbrella and backhanded the rebound past the Pronghorns netminder to tie the game at 1-1 at 14:14!
The final five minutes had no other goals recorded as we'd go to the second period with the single goal scored for each team.

Whatever was said during the intermission seemed to spark the Dinos as they came out to start the middle frame like they were on fire. They peppered Anderson with shots and were flying around the Lethbridge zone, but the Pronghorns' defence would not waver as they turned the attacks aside. That seemed to spark the visitors as the Pronghorns used the momentum built plus a little puck luck to find a second goal. Ashley McCabe was the recipient of a bouncing puck at the edge of the crease from Kianna Dietz, and she potted the puck into a yawning cage after players had fallen on top of Roberts. The officials agreed it was a good goal, and Lethbridge led 2-1 at 11:13! It seemed that the Dinos were poised to tie the game late in the frame but a pair of saves by the post and the crossbar kept this game at 2-1 as the teams headed to the third!

The third period saw the teams trade chances, but neither the goalies nor the posts were willing to concede any further goals. Despite outshooting the Pronghorns, the Dinos could not muster another goal as the Pronghorns picked up three points with the 2-1 win! Alicia Anderson notched her seventh win of the season in making 27 stops while Roberts fell short with her 18 saves.

FRIDAY: The battle of the rectangle province went for the second time this season as Regina traveled to Saskatoon for the first half of the home-and-home with the Huskies. Regina needed points to hold onto fifth-place against the persistent Mount Royal Cougars and the surging Lethbridge Pronghorns. Saskatchewan, meanwhile, had a chance to close the gap on third-place UBC with a pair of wins this weekend. Which team would help their own cause? Jessica Vance took the net for the Huskies while Jane Kish was in net for the Cougars.

The first period was all about goal-scoring and goaltending for the home squad. Saskatchewan jumped out in front at 6:56 off a Brooklyn Haubrich goal, and then followed that goal up 44 seconds later when Bailee Bourassa lasered a shot over Jane Kish's left shoulder into the top-right corner. Regina got themselves moving after that and generated a number of chances, but Vance wasn't having any of it as she denied those shots. With 1:06 remaining in the frame, Kennedy Brown knocked down a puck and took off on a breakaway where she went top-left corner over the glove of Kish to make it 3-0. The final minute would produce nothing else, so we'd move to the second period with Saskatchewan firmly in control with a 3-0 lead.

Morgan Baker was in the Cougars' net to start the second period as Sarah Hodges looked for something to spark her team. Unfortunately, the Huskies continued to bring the heat, but Baker was ready for the action as she turned away a number of chances early on. Saskatchewan would make good on one of their 14 shots in the frame as Abby Shirley solved Baker at 16:22, and it seemed that the Huskies were setting up a blow-out of their provincial rivals. However, Regina would kill Vance's shutout when Chelsea Hallson sent Jaycee Magwood and Emma Waldenberger in on a two-on-one just over a minute later. Magwood opted to keep and that was a good decision as her shot beat Vance at 18:54 to make it a 4-1 game.

The third period was all about Saskatchewan limiting chances and securing the lead through the final 20 minutes. They would indeed do that, using some early scoring to help them to a 4-1 victory on this night! Jessica Vance made 26 saves for her eighth win of the campaign while Kish suffered the loss in her 20 minutes of work, making 11 saves on 14 shots. For the record, Baker stopped 21 of 22 shots in her 40 minutes of relief work.

SATURDAY: The series would head south down Highway 11 to Regina as the interprovincial battle continued. The loss on Friday certainly didn't help Regina, but the three points earned by Saskatchewan made the gap between the fourth-place Huskies and fifth-place Cougars even larger. Jessica Vance took to the Saskatchewan nets once more while Regina came back with Morgan Baker after her strong performance one night earlier.

After both teams got their legs under them, the Huskies went back to work as they did one night earlier. Kennedy Brown sent a pass over to Sophie Lalor on a two-on-one, and Lalor waited just long enough to find a seam on Baker as she beat the Regina netminder between the wickets at 7:56 to put the visitors up 1-0. Regina, however, wasn't going to let this one get away while on home ice. Jenna Merk stripped a Huskie of the puck behind the net and threw it out front where Shaelyn Vallotton picked it up inside the blue line, stepped into a wrist shot, and beat Vance low on the glove side at 10:20 to even the score at 1-1! The final nine minutes saw Regina pour on all sorts of pressure thanks to a 5-on-3 power-play, but Vance would stand tall as the period ended with the score tied at one-goal apiece despite Regina leading 14-5 in shots!

The second period was highlighted by more goaltending as neither Vance nor Baker were interested in allowing the opposition to take a lead. That continued into the third period as well as neither Regina nor Saskatchewan could find an advantage. This would carry over into the four-on-four overtime period and again into the three-on-three overtime period. At the end of three full periods and two overtime periods, we were still tied 1-1 with Regina holding a 33-18 advantage in shots. We'd need a skills competition to decide a winner in this one!

It would take eight rounds to determine a winner, and that would include Baker stopping Bailee Bourassa and Sophie Lalor twice each while Jessica Vance stoned Jaycee Magwood twice. However, the only goal of the shootout would go to Regina when Jordan Kulbida zipped a shot under Vance's blocker for the winner in the skills competition! Regina would claim victory with the shootout goal as they prevailed 2-1! Morgan Baker picked up her third win of the season in stopping 17 shots while Vance absorbed the loss despite making 32 saves on this night.

FRIDAY: Manitoba traveled to Calgary to meet the Mount Royal Cougars as they stared at a six-point chasm between themselves and first-place Alberta while third-place UBC was three points back of them. Mount Royal needed to find points to try and leap Regina into fifth-place while holding off Lethbridge in their push for the playoffs. Manitoba opted to send Lauren Taraschuk to the crease while Mount Royal went with Zoe De Beauville.

Manitoba came out strong and carried the play in the early going as they caused the Cougars some fits with their speed and skill. This would help Manitoba draw the first penalty as Tatum Amy was sent off for a slash, and the Manitoba power-play would make the Cougars pay. Natasha Kostenko would find the first goal as she beat De Beauville at 10:23 with the player-advantage, and the Bisons were up 1-0! It appeared we'd go to the intermission with that score, but Karissa Kirkup had other ideas as she found the back of the net with 14 seconds left in the frame, and Manitoba would lead 2-0 when the horn sounded.

The second period was far more even in the play between the two teams, but a bodychecking penalty on Tianna Ko was what Manitoba needed to extend their lead. Jenai Buchanan would find room past De Beauville at 6:38 - eight seconds after Ko was sent off - as Manitoba took a 3-0 lead! It should be noted that early in the second, Mount Royal went down a defender when Victoria Byer went down and was in considerable pain. She was helped off the ice, and the Cougars would play the remainder of the second and the third with only five defenders. Here's hoping that Byer's injury is minor, and she's back on the ice sooner than later! The good news? They would start the third period needing three goals to even the game.

Nicolette Seper would beat Taraschuk midway through the third period to ruin the shutout bid, but Erica Rieder would ice the game with an empty-netter with 18 second to play as Manitoba locked down the defensive zone to secure the 4-1 victory. Lauren Taraschuk made 19 saves to record her conference-leading tenth win of the season while De Beauville suffered the loss despite stopping 28 shots.

SATURDAY: Manitoba came into Saturday's game looking for the sweep and all six points while Mount Royal needed to find a split in their efforts to hunt down the Saskatchewan-based Cougars. Lauren Taraschuk would head back to the blue paint for Manitoba while Mount Royal opted to go with Emma Pincott in the matinee.

The Cougars came out as the aggressors in this game and they had chances early, only to be denied by Taraschuk. The period would begin to shift in Manitoba's direction as they had a power-play midway through the period, but came up with nothing to show for it. The defensive stance seemed to push the Cougars, and they'd take a lead with less than five minutes to play in the frame when Camryn Amundson out-muscled a defender to get off a backhander that eluded Taraschuk on the short side to give MRU the 1-0 lead at 15:39! The Cougars would maintain their first lead of the weekend through to the intermission.

It seemed that the Bisons simply couldn't find their game on this afternoon as the Cougars opened the second period by blitzing the Manitoba defence over and over, but, while the Bisons may have bent, they certainly didn't break. They would find themselves square later in the period when Alanna Sharman - who had missed the entire first half of the season - scored her first goal of the campaign on a slapper than beat Pincott at 14:03. Give Taraschuk credit as she held the fort in the second period as the two teams went to the the third period knotted up at 1-1.

Both teams traded chances in the opening of the third period, but it would be a power-play midway through the frame that put the Bisons ahead. Alanna Sharman scored her second goal of the game past Pincott at 10:04 to put Manitoba up 2-1. Five minutes later, Lauryn Keen decided to put on a display of talent while shorthanded that can only be described as "dazzling"!
Keen's amazing shorthanded goal at 15:07 put Manitoba up 3-1, and Mount Royal was running out of time. Pincott would head to the bench with 1:19 remaining, but it would be Jordy Zacharias who iced this game with 16 seconds to play into the empty net as the Bisons skated to the 4-1 victory! Lauren Taraschuk made 18 stops for her eleventh win of the season while Emma Pincott suffered her first loss of the season after making 18 saves.

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
44 47 16
42 57 29
vs REG
British Columbia
37 41 26
34 34 28
vs LET
28 35 46
Mount Royal
24 28 47
vs ALB
22 26 44
9 22 54
vs UBC

The Last Word

Well, after a number of surprises this week in terms of who beat who, the overall net change in the standings was zero. The races got a little tighter thanks to those wins, but every team is in the same place as they were last week. That being said, there are some things to note for this upcoming week.

With Alberta visiting Mount Royal, Alberta can clinch a playoff spot with a victory of any sort on Friday OR a Lethbridge loss at the hands of Saskatchewan at any point this weekend. There are 24 points remaining this season, Alberta is 22 points ahead of the Pronghorns, and Alberta holds the tie-breaker right now as the season series is 2-0 in their favor.

With Manitoba hosting Regina, the Bisons can book their ticket to the playoffs with any combination of four points earned this weekend OR by earning one point on Friday AND having Lethbridge lose in regulation time to Saskatchewan on Friday. There are 24 points remaining this season, Manitoba is 20 points ahead of the Pronghorns, and Manitoba holds the tie-breaker right now as the season series is 2-0 in their favor.

With Calgary hosting UBC, the Dinos will officially be eliminated from playoff contention if UBC wins both games in regulation AND Mount Royal earns four points against Alberta in their two games. There are 24 points remaining this season, Mount Royal is 15 points ahead of the Dinos, and the teams have split the season series 1-1 thus far. If Mount Royal fails to earn four points or if Calgary earns points in any way, the Dinos are still in the hunt for the final playoff spot for at least one more week.

What makes this upcoming weekend's games a little more intriguing is the fact that Mount Royal and Alberta are 1-1 against one another this season with each team winning at home. The series this weekend will also be a home-and-home, so fans of the Cougars are hoping to recreate the same magic they found in Week Three when the Cougars beat the Pandas 3-1 in Calgary.

The playoff picture is slowly starting to take form, and it's the most exciting time in Canada West with seven teams legitimately vying for six spots. While no one is writing off the Dinos just yet, if they adopt the spoiler role and play like they have nothing to lose, we might be talking about eight teams vying for six spots following this weekend.

As Andy Williams sang, it really is the most wonderful time of the year!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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