Sunday, 1 December 2019

The Rundown - Week 9

The schedule starts over this week as the second-half of the season officially begins before the December exam-and-holiday break in Canada West hockey. Yes, this scheduling quirk is weird to accept, but c'est la vie in terms of how this season goes for the eight teams. With every team having played each other over a weekend, we should see some adjustments made by all teams as they switch venues and play a second weekend of games. The majority of these games will happen in after December, but we'd see who made adjustments to their opposition on this week's edition of The Rundown!

The top team in Canada West headed east to Regina as the Dinos met the upstart Regina Cougars who had Lethbridge and, more importantly, a playoff spot in their sights with a couple of wins this weekend. Calgary opened the season with a pair of wins over Regina in Calgary, so the Cougars were looking to return the favour this weekend. Gabrielle Durante was handed her first start in Canada West on Friday as Kelsey Roberts was given the night off while Jane Kish was back between the pipes for the Regina Cougars.

Regina came out determined to find the first goal as they peppered Durante in her Canada West debut in the early-going in this game, but her strong netminding allowed her team to grab the lead seven minutes in as Brooke Dennett's initial shot was kicked out by Kish's left pad, but Annaliese Meier crashed the net and flipped the puck over Kish's pad on the rebound to put the Dinos up 1-0 at 7:35! Less than two minutes later, though, Regina would be rewarded for their relentless attack in the period when Jordan Kulbida blocked a point shot and was off to the races on a breakaway down the right wing before going high on the glove-side with a laser of a wrist shot to tie the game at 1-1 at 9:21! The Cougars continued to press the Dinos through the last half of the period, but Durante stood tall as that 1-1 tie held through the intermission despite Regina outshooting Calgary 12-5 through the opening 20 minutes.

The second period saw the Cougars continue their strong play, but that was derailed with an early penalty to Jaycee Magwood. While the Dinos wouldn't capitalize on the power-play, they did dent twine seconds after the power-play expired. Off an offensive face-off, Dana Wood was credited with the goal despite it deflecting off a body in front and catching Kish moving in the wrong direction at 7:23 to make it a 2-1 game in favour of the Dinos! The teams would trade changes in the final 12 minutes of the period, but both Durante and Kish held their ground to keep the score intact. At the second break, it was 2-1 Calgary with Regina holding a 21-12 margin in shots.

It appears that the Dinos got a pretty good pep talk in the second intermission as they came out and put a pile of pucks on Kish, but the Regina netminder held her team in the game with a great period of netminding. Late in the game with Kish on the bench, the six Regina attackers pressed for the equalizer, but Durante was equal to the task in helping the Dinos secure the 2-1 victory! Gabrielle Durante earned her first Canada West win after stopping 25 shots while Kish took the loss in a 21-save effort.

Highlights of this game are below!

SATURDAY: Calgary and Regina met in their final games before the December break with Calgary firmly in first-place in Canada West and with Regina languishing in seventh-place, but looking to fight their way back into a playoff spot. After a solid game the night before, Regina was hoping to find themselves on the winning side of the scoreboard while Calgary looked to secure first-place going into the break. Kelsey Roberts was back in the net for the Dinos while Jane Kish got the start again for Regina.

The teams started this game by playing better defence in keeping the opposition's chances to a minimum. Calgary, however, ran into some penalty trouble before the midpoint of the period with back-to-back minor penalties. That second penalty proved to be costly as Kaitlyn Crowe's shot from the point was stopped by a screened Roberts, but the rebound popped out to her left where Jaycee Magwood picked it up and deposited it into the net for the power-play marker and the 1-0 lead at 12:20! Kish would do her part through the remaining seven minutes of time as the first period ended with Regina up 1-0 on the scoreboard and leading 7-5 in shots.

The second period started with the same strong defensive play from both sides as it did in the first period, but an early killed penalty by the Dinos seemed to energize them. The momentum was building as the period continued, and the Dinos would find their reward just past the midway mark in the period. Paige Michalenko would throw a puck on net with traffic in front that would hit a body, and Brooke Dennett swept the puck around Kish into the net as Kish searched for the loose puck to tie the game at 1-1 at 10:49! 2:21 later, Elizabeth Lang picked up a loose puck that took a bad hop as Regina tried to clear it around the boards, and she buried it past Kish to make it 2-0! 1:12 after that, Holly Reuther picked the pocket of Hannah Pennell, allowing Annaliese Meier to pick up the loose puck, go in on Kish on the partial breakaway, and rip a low wrist shot on the left side that Kish could not stop to make it 3-1 Calgary at 14:22! Roberts would do her part in keeping the Cougars off the board in the middle frame as the teams went to the break with Calgary up 3-1, but the sides even at 12-12 in shots.

An early penalty in the third period would come back to haunt Regina as Paige Michalenko's point shot was stopped, but Elizabeth Lang picked up the loose puck in the slot after Sara Craven fanned on the rebound, and Lang went high on Kish 2:33 into the frame to make it 4-1 for Calgary. From there, Calgary played shutdown hockey as they prevented chances on Roberts. However, a late Dinos penalty saw Jordan Kulbida win the offensive zone face-off to Jaycee Magwood, and the sniper ripped it through traffic past Roberts five seconds into the power-play at 18:42 to make it 4-2. The final 1:18 would be uneventful as the Dinos denied any further damage in picking up the 4-2 win. Roberts earned her tenth win of the season by stopping 14 shots while Kish suffered a second-straight loss to the Dinos in a 14-save performance of her own.

Highlights are below!

UBC went into the final weekend of the first-half as the second-place team, but they were playing host to an Alberta Pandas team who thrashed them 14-1 in the opening weekend games. Alberta, who downed Manitoba in two solid games the weekend before, seems to have have solved their scoring woes, so could they break through the tough Alberta defence? Halle Oswald got the start for the Pandas while UBC went with Tory Micklash once again.

The first period saw both teams taking away chances and opportunities through good defence and shot-blocking. UBC had a few chances on Oswald, but she was good when called upon in her crease. At the other end, Micklash was in full denial mode as well as she turned aside all Alberta shots in the first period. At the end of 20 minutes, the game was tied 0-0 with Alberta holding a 6-4 edge in shots.

The second period saw the teams increase their defensive pressure on one another, but a pair of UBC power-plays book-ended a pair of UBC penalties that gave Alberta a five-on-three situation for 49 seconds. UBC weathered that storm, but could not find a goal of their own on either power-play opportunity. After 40 minutes, we were still deadlocked at 0-0 with Alberta holding an 11-10 advantage in shots.

The third period saw the stalemate broken early on as the Pandas were buzzing before a puck centered to the slot area was hammered wide by Alex Poznikoff, but the shot ricocheted off the end-boards to Lisa Lloyd who batted it past Micklash who couldn't recover after moving out to the top of her crease on the Poznikoff blast, and the Pandas took the 1-0 lead with 18:25 to play! Alberta decided that the best defence was a good offence following the goal as they continued to pepper Micklash with shots while sacrificing the body in their own zone when it came to blocking UBC shots. When the final horn sounded, the one goal was all that was needed for the 1-0 Alberta victory! Halle Oswald picked up her fifth win and third shutout of the season by stopping all 14 shots she faced while Tory Micklash took the loss after making 21 saves on the night.

Highlights of this one-goal game are below!

SATURDAY: Alberta closed the gap on UBC with their win on Friday and had a chance to move three points ahead of the T-Birds with a sweep. The Thunderbirds, of course, were looking to restore that three-point lead on Alberta, so this game meant a lot to both teams heading into the December break. Kirsten Chamberlin took her spot in the Alberta crease while Tory Micklash officially started every game in the first-half of the season for UBC after getting the nod today.

UBC came out determined today as they looked to even up the weekend with a win. An early power-play gave them some additional momentum, but they simply couldn't solve Chamberlin in the opening frame. A couple of late penalties gave Alberta life, and the second Sydney Neustaeter hooking call also gave Alberta the lead. 14 seconds of Neustaeter sat down in the sin bin, Autumn MacDougall skated out of the corner and put a shot on net that deflected off the skate of Rylind MacKinnon and past Micklash at 16:35 for the 1-0 Alberta lead! The last three minutes ticked off and we went to the break with Alberta up a goal, but UBC leading 10-4 in shots.

The second period saw Alberta's offence come to life in terms of shots thanks, in part, to an early 90-second two-player advantage. Alberta wouldn't let a second five-on-three go past without a goal this weekend as Cayle Dillon's shot from the high slot was stopped by Micklash, but the rebound came out to her right where Autumn MacDougall was standing and the Alberta sniper made no mistake as she put puck on mesh at 5:01 for the power-play goal and the 2-0 Alberta lead! Alberta killed a couple of penalties later in the period, but it seemed that the early goal had them buzzing as they went into the second intermission up a pair of goals, but had closed the gap in shots to a 17-15 UBC lead.

The third period saw Alberta go into game-management mode as they looked to limit chances for UBC. Two penalties didn't help their cause, but the Pandas were efficient in killing both off. UBC began to press as time wound down as they had a couple of glorious chances, but they simply couldn't finish their chances. With 2:21 to go in the game, Micklash headed to the bench as her team looked to erase the two-goal deficit, Alex Poznikoff picked Rylind MacKinnon's pocket, skated the length of the ice, and iced the game with the empty-netter as Alberta captured the weekend sweep with a 3-0 win! Kirsten Chamberlin picked up her fifth win and third shutout of the campaign with her 24-save performance while Micklash suffered her second loss of the weekend despite stopping 17 shots.

Highlights of this game are below!

The Mount Royal Cougars headed east to Saskatoon to meet up with the Saskatchewan Huskies. These two teams split the opening weekend's games with Mount Royal outscoring Saskatchewan 3-2 in those games. Both teams were looking to move up the standings with a pair of wins this weekend as they began the weekend tied, and that opportunity would begin with Friday's game. Cassie Shokar got the start for the Cougars while Saskatchewan went with their ace in Jessica Vance in this one.

According to records, Leah Bohlken opened the scoring at 2:44 to give the Huskies the 1-0 lead. How? I'm not sure, and you'll see why shortly. Despite Mount Royal having two power-play opportunities, Saskatchewan led in shots through the first 20 minutes 9-7 as well as holding the one-goal lead on the scoreboard.

In a penalty-filled second period, neither team seemed to be able to find any traction on the power-play, but Mount Royal would find the back of the net minutes past the midway point of the period. Anna Purschke fed Kate Hufnagel in the slot, and Hufnagel outwaited Jessica Vance with a great deke to slide the puck five-hole at 13:22 to make it a 1-1 game! We'd move to the second break with the game tied at 1-1, but with Saskatchewan leading in shots by an 18-13 margin.

In the third period, Saskatchewan absolutely blitzed Mount Royal as the Cougars found themselves in the sin bin often. Bailee Bourassa made them pay at 8:59 when she cashed in a Brooklyn Haubrich rebound for the power-play goal and the 2-1 lead. Five minutes later, Bourassa sniped another goal at the 16:26 mark, and Leah Bohlken hit the empty net at 17:08 after Shokar had gone to the bench for the extra attacker. In a period in which Saskatchewan outshot Mount Royal 13-0, the Huskies claimed victory with a 4-1 victory! Jessica Vance earned her sixth win of the season with a 12-save evening while Cassie Shokar took the loss despite stopping 27 shots.

The reason for this brief recap is that the Huskies posted no highlights! C'mon, Saskatchewan, get the highlight reel rolling and post those goals!

SATURDAY: With Saskatchewan moving ahead of Mount Royal in the standings and in the season series, Saturday's game had a lot riding on it for both teams. The Huskies could find themselves in second-place after if they swept the Cougars while the Cougars were looking to stay in the top-four teams with a win while evening up the season series. Zoe de Beauville got the start for the Cougars while Jessica Vance finished off the first-half of the schedule in the Saskatchewan net.

The game started off just as the Friday night game finished as Saskatchewan was all over Mount Royal in the opening frame. The only problem was that de Beauville was ready for the attack as she denied every Huskies chance. While Vance only had one puck to turn aside, the Cougars were still in this one thanks to their goaltender keeping it a 0-0 game with Saskatchewan outshooting Mount Royal 12-1 in the period.

Before the fans got settled in for the second period, they were back on their feet as Bailee Bourassa's feed to Leah Bohlken in the slot was on the mark, and Bohlken sniped a shot past de Beauville just 14 seconds into the frame to put the Huskies up 1-0! That goal sparked the Cougars as they carried the play for the remainder of the period, but Jessica Vance showed why she's one of this season's best as she denied MRU at every chance. Through 40 minutes of play, Saskatchewan owned the 1-0 lead, but Mount Royal had closed the gap in shots to 15-13.

The third period was played far more even as the two teams looked for more goals while preventing goals being scored. Chances were seen at both ends of the ice, but both de Beauville and Vance did their jobs in keeping the puck out of their respective nets. Despite their best efforts, the Cougars simply couldn't beat Vance on this night as the Huskies completed the sweep with the 1-0 victory! Jessica Vance stopped 21 shots for her seventh win and third shutout of the season while Zoe de Beauville likely deserved a better fate than a loss with her 21-save performance.

Again, there are no highlights to post because the Huskies opted not to prepare them, but I do want to point out a major highlight!


Jessica Vance recorded her 18th career shutout on Saturday to move into third-place all-time on the Canada West shutout list! She's got a little work to do to hunt down career leader Lindsey Post at 31, but she's now one shutout away from tying former Alberta Pandas netminder Dana Vinge for second-place all-time! That's a huge accomplishment for Vance, and she's certainly got enough time left this season to move into second-place all-time! Congratulations, Jessica, and here's hoping you find 13 more before you graduate to tie Post's illustrious record!

In the one series where a team could neither move into first-place nor lose out on a playoff spot, the Lethbridge Pronghorns visited Winnipeg to close out the first-half of the season against the Manitoba Bisons. Lethbridge held a 2-0 record against the Bisons after an opening weekend sweep, so the Bisons were looking to even the series in the event they climbed back into the playoff picture. Lethbridge was simply looking to climb back into top-four contention to have a shot at a first-round bye after stumbling the last few weeks. Alicia Anderson was back in the nets for Lethbridge while Amanda Schubert got the start for Manitoba on Friday.

The two teams played fairly tentatively to open Friday's game with neither team allowing the puck to get to the middle of the ice in their defensive zones. There were a handful of chances on both sides once the teams settled in, but the first period saw Anderson and Schubert in a goalie duel as they stopped everything sent their ways. Through 20 minutes, the game remained a 0-0 tie, but Lethbridge held an 8-7 edge in shots.

It seemed like the second period was starting as the first did, but Lethbridge's Alli Borrow would find a seam in the slot area, take a pass from Kyra Greig, and her shot went over the blocker and arm of Schubert to open the scoring at 3:12 for the 1-0 Lethbridge lead! Manitoba went to the power-play one minute later, but the Pronghorns would kill off the power-play. Manitoba, though, began to carry the play through the final half of the second period, but Anderson was on her game as she denied all chances. After 40 minutes, Lethbridge held the 1-0 lead with Manitoba holding a 16-14 advantage in shots.

The third period saw Manitoba up their efforts in looking for the equalizer, and they wouldn't have to wait long. Off a goalmouth scramble where Anderson couldn't locate the puck, Jordy Zacharias had her shot denied, but the loose puck would be corralled by Mekaela Fisher near the left post, and she flipped it up and over the pile of bodies in the blue paint at 3:36 to tie the game at 1-1! The Bisons were energized by their goal as they continued to apply pressure in the Pronghorns zone, but Anderson was doing her part in keeping this contest deadlocked at 1-1. Late in the period, however, the Bisons were moving the puck around the zone when Jenai Buchanan at the top of the zone spotted Kate Gregoire at the back post, made a tape-to-tape pass, and Gregoire swept the puck home before Anderson could recover at 17:08 to put Manitoba up 2-1! Anderson went to the bench for the extra attacker late, and Fisher would add her second goal of the game into the empty net to give Manitoba the 3-1 victory! Amanda Schubert stopped 18 shots for her third win of the season while Alicia Anderson made 24 stops in the loss.

Manitoba opted not to put together a highlight package, so there's nothing to post here for video evidence of these goals. I will say that I witnessed the Bisons victory along with the accompanying celebration after the horn sounded with my own eyes, so I can confirm these goals were scored!

SATURDAY: Manitoba's win on Friday meant that Lethbridge would have to wait until the second-half of the season to climb back into a top-four spot in the conference, but they could get themselves a lot closer to where they want to be with a three-point win on Saturday. Manitoba was looking to close the gap even more between them and Lethbridge for the sixth-place spot in the conference and the final playoff spot with a win, so there was definitely meaningful points on the line. Alicia Anderson got the start for the Pronghorns to close out 2019 while Erin Fargey was given the start for Manitoba to end the first-half of this season!

This game opened up with much better pace compared to Friday night's tilt as both teams were hunting for the opening goal early. Lethbridge had a handful of chances from the slot area, but the combination of a some timely shot blocks by the Manitoba defence with the strong netminding of Erin Fargey kept those chances from becoming goals. At the other end, Manitoba was using the lessons they used from the night before to try and beat Anderson with lots of shots and follow-ups for rebounds, but the veteran goalkeeper did her part keeping the Bisons off the board. After one period, the teams were knotted up at 0-0, but Manitoba had doubled up the Pronghorns in shots at 10-5.

The second period would see Madison Porter penalized early in the frame to give Manitoba's power-play an opportunity, and they would not waste this one. Lauren Warkentin's low shot to the far post from the right face-off dot was kicked out by Anderson, but Kate Gregoire had snuck in from the weak side, picked up the rebound, and rifled home her second goal of the weekend and season as Manitoba took the 1-0 lead on the power-play marker! Manitoba went back to their tried-and-true method of looking for rebounds as they continued to pepper Anderson through the period, but it would be aforementioned Porter who made amends late in the frame. Porter tore down the right wing, made an incredible move around the defender to get to the middle of the ice, and ripped a low shot inside the left post past Fargey at 18:04 that should make highlight reels everywhere as Lethbridge evened the game at 1-1! That score would hold into the second break with Manitoba leading 21-11 in shots.

The third period followed the same game plan for Manitoba as initial shots were used to try and create rebounds, but Anderson was on her game in this period as she smothered a lot of shots coming into her. Lethbridge had a late power-play where they got some quality looks on Fargey, but the Manitoba netminder was showing off her skills as well. The horn sounded and the game was still tied at 1-1, so we'd get some free hockey to end the first-half of the schedule with Manitoba up 31-17 in shots!

Normally, we'd see some four-on-four in the opening overtime period, but penalties to Lethbridge's Kianna Dietz for hooking - which may have saved a goal - and Manitoba's Sheridan Oswald 21 seconds apart gave us a lot of three-on-three time, and Manitoba's captain would end this one with an amazing effort. Jordy Zacharias pushed the puck past Madison Porter at center ice, and then simply turned on the jets to blaze past the Lethbridge forward as Zacharias created her own breakaway, and she'd go to her backhand through the five-hole as Anderson moved laterally giving Manitoba the 2-1 overtime victory! Erin Fargey stopped 16 shots for her second win of the season while Anderson deserved a better fate than a loss after stopping 30 shots in this game.

Highlights, including some rather awful video replay, are below!

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
33 36 26
29 46 19
29 28 24
British Columbia
26 27 30
Mount Royal
23 24 21
22 31 40
15 25 39
15 17 35

The Last Word

With the December break upon us, there have been some rather incredible performances from the ladies who play Canada West hockey. At one point, I had proposed an Alberta-vs-Everyone-Else All-Star Game in Canada West to highlight the women who have done some amazing things through the first-half of the season, so next week I'll have a special edition of The Rundown that looks at who would be selected for this proposed All-Star Game and how it may work. I truly believe the women chosen for both teams would be the best-of-the-best in Canada West this season, so I'll bring that to you next week.

As it stands, I hope all the women in Canada West do extremely well on their upcoming exams as the most important of being a student-athlete is the "student" part. These ladies work extremely hard all season long to entertain us with their incredible talents off the ice, but we should be mindful that they're going to university to better themselves, this country, and this planet with where ever their paths take them after they graduate. These are smart, savvy women in their fields of study, and business owners and HR people would be wise to keep their eyes on these women as they already understand the importance of being part of a great team and contributing to the end-goals set by those teams.

After all the exams are done, I want to wish the both the men's and women's players in Canada West, the coaches, the equipment and training staffs, the parents, and the fans of all eight teams have happy holidays as we get ready for what should be an intense final six weeks of the season. While no one is mathematically-eliminated nor has anyone officially run away with the conference title yet, it means that all eight clubs still have a shot at winning the Canada West Conference with a trip to the U SPORTS National Championship in Charlottetown, PEI in store for the Canada West finalists!

It should be a great run in the second-half of the season, so why not give the gift of tickets to see your local CanWest women's hockey team this holiday season? That sounds to me like one heckuva gift to receive, and I guarantee it will be a fun event for all who attend!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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