Sunday, 31 October 2021

The Rundown - Week 3

It took some eight hours, a pit stop for some fuel, a leg-stretching break for lunch, and some chatter and laughs, but a round-trip excursion to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for some Canada West hockey has been completed. I must say that the trip was highly enjoyable, and the facility in Saskatoon known as Merlis Belsher Place is remarkable. There were still games to be played on that ice, though, as well as four other rinks in Saskatchewan and Alberta this weekend while Trinity Western enjoyed a week off to prepare for Halloween after a rather frightening start to their season. We'll look at all that and more on this week's edition of The Rundown!

FRIDAY: We'll start with the team currently holding the top spot in the Canada West Conference as the 3-0-1 Mount Royal Cougars travelled across the city of Calgary to meet their crosstown rivals in the 2-2-0 Calgary Dinos. Mount Royal's offence exploded for goals against Trinity Western one week earlier while Calgary carved a pair of wins off MacEwan in their first regular season meetings. The first edition of the Calgary rivalry saw Zoe De Beauville in the net for the Cougars while Gabriella Durante was between the pipes for Calgary.

Once more, this blog is not here to celebrate blowout wins. The recap is there to show the damage, but there will be no long-winded pieces of literature about goals in a blowout win. In saying that, the Cougars pounced on the Dinos when Aliya Jomha scored her third goal of the season at 3:34 unassisted before Courtney Kollman scored her fourth goal 1:10 later to put Mount Royal up 2-0. Calgary would rally, though, as Elizabeth Lang got one back for the Dinos at 9:06 with her third goal of the season, and Alli Borrow would push this game into the intermission at a 2-2 tie when she scored her second goal of the campaign at 17:02. Calgary held the 11-5 advantage in shots through the first period.

Penalties were the story of the second period as a too-many-players penalty on the Dinos in the first minute led to an Anna Purschke power-play goal at 1:10 to push the Cougars into the lead. An interference call later in the period to Rachel Paul allowed the Cougars to capitalize once again as Mackenzie Butz hammered a blast from the point through traffic and past Durante for the power-play goal, and Mount Royal claimed a 4-2 lead that carried into the break.

Moutn Royal used early goals in the third period to put the Dinos in a deep hole as Tianna Ko scored her third of the season at 1:31 to end Durante's night in the crease with Calgary down 5-2. It didn't get any easier for Dayna Owen who came into the game for the Dinos as Taylor Sawka scored her third goal at 3:48 for a 6-2 Mount Royal lead. Holly Reuther would get one of those goals back while shorthanded when she forced a turnover at the blue line, skated the puck down the ice, and beat De Beauville for her third goal of the season at 17:06, but Mount Royal would see goals from Courtney Kollman on the power-play at 18:38 and Emma Bergesen on the power-play at 19:57 to close out this 8-3 victory for the Cougars. Zoe De Beauville picks up her third win of the season with a 19-save night while Gabriella Durante suffered the loss while stopping 24 of 29 shots in her 41:31 of work. For the record, Dayna Owen stopped four of seven shots in her 18:29 of relief.

Highlights of this game are below!

SATURDAY: The teams switched home and away sides as they moved to Seven Chiefs Sportsplex and not Flames Community Arena for this game despite what the scoresheets on the Canada West website state. This move was made in collaboration with the Sportsplex itself and the Tsuu T'ina Nation community to spread awareness around Indigenous learning, truth, and reconciliation which is pretty awesome. In terms of the game, after hammering the Dinos one night earlier, one would have to wonder how each team would approach the game on Saturday. Gabrielle Durante got the nod for Calgary despite being pulled one night earlier while Kaitlyn Ross got the start for the Cougars.

I will note that the Cougars held their end of the bargain in terms of moving this game as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls were honoured with a ceremonial puck drop between Tsuu T'ina Nation Councilman Steven Crowchild and manager of Cougar Athletics Rob Godfrey. Four red dresses were also hung beside the MRU bench commemorating Sisters in Spirit, and I wanted to ensure that this was mentioned as the Cougars deserve some kudos for honouring the memory of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and for recognizing the efforts made by Sisters in Spirit. Well done, Cougars!

When the game puck was dropped, the first period belonged to the Cougars as they peppered Durante with shots. Unlike Friday, though, Durante was having none of it as she stopped all 16 shots fired at her in the first period thanks in large part to a two-player advantage for a full two minutes. Ross was far less busy in the Cougars' crease with four stops, but neither goaltender would allow anything behind them as we moved to the second period tied at 0-0.

Calgary got themselves back on track in the second period as they launched ten shots at Ross, but the netminder was content to allow zero past her once again. At the other end, Durante stopped another nine shots from the Cougars, and the netminders were the story as this game headed into the third period still tied at 0-0.

The third period would see the deadlock broken following a sequence of penalties that left Calgary on the power-play just before the midway point of the frame. The Dinos would capitalize when Elizabeth Lang's shot was kicked out by Ross, but the rebound went directly to Holly Reuther who cashed in the rebound at 9:38 for her fourth goal of the season, and the Dinos took the 1-0 lead! Despite pressing late in this game, Mount Royal couldn't find the equalizer as the Dinos bounced back with a 1-0 over the Cougars! Gabriella Durante stopped 34 shots for her third win and first shutout of the season while Kaitlyn Ross stopped 18 shots in the loss.

As an aside, I find it a wee bit disconcerting that the gamesheet and the game summary on Canada West's website both show that the game took place at Flames Community Arena despite it clearly not taking place there. It should also be noted that the gamesheet, the game summary, and the Cougars' own game summary all show Kaitlyn Ross was making the stops in this game, but the recap written by Ellery Platts and Maria Kanatas states something entirely different.

You know how we could solve this problem of who actually played this game? A highlight package. You know who doesn't produce highlight packages for some odd, inexplicable reason? The Mount Royal Cougars. As an aside, Ron Livingston is playing the role of Mount Royal's athletic department in the movie version of this mystery of missing highlights. Here's a short clip.

FRIDAY: The 3-1-0 UBC Thunderbirds technically hold the tie-breaker over Manitoba for second-place in Canada West, so we'll jump to their games as they travelled to Edmonton to meet the 1-3-0 MacEwan Griffins for a regular-season game for the first time ever. UBC was coming off a solid performance against the Bisons while MacEwan needed to find the win column again after losing a pair to Calgary. Rookie Elise Hugens got her third start of the season for the T-Birds while Brianna Sank was given the task of stopping UBC in the MacEwan net.

To say that UBC dominated this game might not be fully selling just how good the Thunderbirds looked. Shay-Lee McConnell scored her first goal of the season at 5:40 when she went between the wickets on Sank. Chanreet Bassi used the same tactic when she turned a giveaway into a five-hole goal at 9:40 for her fourth marker of the campaign. And Ireland Perrott's one-timer on a loose puck in the slot found enough room through Sank at 16:25 for her second goal of the season that marked the end to a short night for Sank as she was replaced by Natalie Bender after the Griffins fell behind 3-0. That score would hold to the break where the T-Birds showed their dominance in holding a 17-2 edge in shots. No, that's not a typo.

The second period saw the onslaught continue as UBC continued to replace the Griffins logo on Bender's chest with puck marks. Hannah Koroll would finally get one past Bender on the power-play for her first of the season when she fired a shot through the humanity standing in front of the screened goal at 6:40 to make it 4-0. MacEwan's efforts were routinely thwarted by a relentless UBC defence, and we'd hit the 40-minute mark with UBC up 4-0 and leading 32-5 in shots. Again, not a typo.

MacEwan played better in the third period compared to the earlier frames as they had chances in the third period, but they couldn't solve Hugens. Grace Elliott scored her second goal of the season with 47 seconds to play as her shot in the slot had enough on it to get past Bender, and the UNC Thunderbirds skated to the 5-0 victory over the MacEwan Griffins. Elise Hugens posted her third win and second shutout of the season with 11 stops in this game while Brianna Sank took the loss in stopping ten of 13 shots she faced. For the record, Natalie Bender made 24 of 26 shots she faced in 43:35 of work in relief of Sank.

MacEwan is really proud of their videos they posted seven years ago, it seems, because they refuse to post new ones of things like hockey highlights or sports highlights or any highlights of anything happening at their school in general. Seven years. For real.

SATURDAY: After a game in which they owned virtually every inch of ice, the Thunderbirds were looking to sweep the weekend series with the Griffins. MacEwan needed to find something positive on which they could build from the night before, and they saw some better play in the third period. Would that be enough to slow down the T-Birds? Reese Hiddleston got the start for UBC while Natalie Bender was back in MacEwan's blue paint after playing in relief the night before for the Griffins.

The first period on Saturday felt similar to the first period on Friday in terms of shot disparity with UBC throwing pucks at the MacEwan net from all over, but Natalie Bender was locked in as she prevented any from finding the twine behind her. Her great work in the crease was rewarded with the Griffins as they went to work on special teams, and the power-play marker that Aryn Chambers scored for her first Canada West goal of her career at 6:40 as the Griffins led 1-0! That score would carry into the break as Bender was sharp with UBC outshooting MacEwan 13-5 in the frame.

The second period saw Reese Hiddleston and Bender go save for save in preventing the score from increasing for either side. Bender stopped ten shots comapred to the six saves Hiddleston made, but neither would concede a goal as we'd move into the third period with the Griffins still leading 1-0.

The third period was all sorts of goal-scoring fun. Rylind MacKinnon notched her third of the season while on the power-play at 5:40, and the T-Birds pulled even at 1-1. 1:23 later, Jayme Doyle broke in on Hiddleston alone and netted her first Canada West goal to put the Griffins up 2-1. Kallie O'Hearn was whistled for a double-minor for a check to the head at the 16:18 mark, and UBC head coach Graham Thomas inexplicably decided to pull Hiddleston for a six-on-four advantage with 3:42 remaining. His gamble failed moments later when Joie Simon netted her first career Canada West goal shorthanded and into an empty net with 3:10 to play to make it a 3-1 game. Ashley McFadden would net her first goal of the campaign on the power-play with 39 seconds to play for UBC, but time expired as they looked for the equalizer as the MacEwan Griffins downed the UBC Thunderbirds by a 3-2 score! Natalie Bender earned her first win of the season and first Canada West win with a 41-save performance while Reese Hiddleston took the loss despite stopping 14 shots.

February 9, 2014 was the last time MacEwan logged into YouTube. This guy was a freshman at their campus the last time they uploaded a video of anything to YouTube. Simply ridiculous.

FRIDAY: The 3-1-0 Bisons, tied for second with UBC, headed west to the rectangular province as they were set to do battle with the 2-0-0 Saskatchewan Huskies. Manitoba split with UBC in the previous week while UBC downed Regina twice in the interprovincial rivalry, so this weekend's set of games looked to be a battle. Erin Fargey got the start for the visiting Bisons while Camryn Drever made her third-straight start for the Huskies.

The two teams weren't all that aggressive through the opening period as both looked for spots to attack only to find that all shots were being turned aside by the two netminders. There wasn't much to report after one period as Saskatchewan led 5-2 in shots, but the score remained 0-0.

The second period saw the Huskies somewhat more aggressive as they generated chances off some sustained offensive pressure, but Fargey was disinterested in allowing goals. Drever, according to the shot totals in the period, appeared to be less busy, but I feel there was some padding of the stats for the home team in this period as the 14-5 edge in shots in this period seemed a little inflated. Regardless, neither team could find twine in this period, so we'd head to the third period seeking goals.

Both teams were more aggressive in the third period as they pushed for that all-important first tally. Again, both goalies were doing their jobs to the letter in denying chances, and the defences were stout when they needed to be. Saskatchewan outshot Manitoba 12-7 in this period, but there were still no goals to report as the final horn sounded so it was off to overtime!

An Ashley Keller tripping penalty early in the first overtime period brought all sorts of excitement as the Huskies had chances, but could not get the puck past Fargey nor the goal line. Shortly after killing off the penalty, a miscue on a face-off outside the Saskatchewan zone allowed Halle Edwards to poke the puck past the Huskies defenders, break in alone on Drever, go forehand-backhand, and slide the puck into the yawning cage past the sprawled goaltender at 4:30 of the extra frame for her third goal of the season and second game-winner of the campaign as the Bisons downed the Huskies 1-0 in overtime! Erin Fargey earned her third win and first shutout of the season with a 34-save performance while Camryn Drever took the overtime loss after making 15 stops.

I read this recap on Saturday morning, and I was a little shocked to see that there was virtually zero information on the game played on Friday and that the image is entirely from a different game not involving the Bisons. The Huskies wore white in this game, not black, so the image is definitely not from October 29, 2021. Was there a staffing shortage on campus where they couldn't get someone to recap this game properly?

I'll let everyone in on a secret that wasn't so secret: I was in Saskatoon for this game. I know they had all their pressboxes full because I was sitting on the concourse broadcasting beside the guys operating the cameras for the scoreboard and the webcast. That means they had video to make a highlight package, so they should have highlights of this game posted, right? Right?

SATURDAY: The Bisons came into the second-half of the two-game set looking for a sweep and the maximum four points after a big win on Friday. The Huskies were looking to rally back after suffering their first defeat of the season. Kimmy Davidson was tasked with stopping pucks for the Bisons in her first start of her Canada West career while Camryn Drever was back in the Huskies' net looking to avenge the loss from one night earlier!

Manitoba came out of the gates looking like the team who had a mission as they were aggressive on the forecheck and were pestering the Huskies' transition all period long. This resulted in more chances, and it would be one of the chances that they'd turn into a score. Trechelle Bunn fed Ashley Keller at the right hash marks, and she roofed a shot over Drever's left shoulder under the bar at 6:40 for her fourth goal of the season and the 1-0 lead for the Bisons. Despite the Bisons outshooting the Huskies 8-6 in the period, that would be the only goal either side would record as we'd move to the second period with the Bisons up a single.

The second period felt a lot like the first as the Huskies seemingly played with little urgency. Again, it resulted in quality chances for Manitoba, and the Bisons would make them pay when Katie Chatyrbok's wrap-around attempt was stopped by Drever, but Samantha Sichkaruk was left wide-open on the backdoor to bang home the rebound at 13:06 for her third goal which doubled Manitoba's lead to 2-0. Towards the end of the frame, the Huskies began to find ways to generate chances as they seemed to come to life, but the horn would send Saskatchewan into the break trailing 2-0 on the scoreboard and 18-15 in shots.

You had to figure the Huskies weren't happy with their performance to that point, and that the third period was going to be an everything-to-the-net period. It was definitely that as the Huskies were all over Manitoba for the entire stanza. Using their speed, they attacked off the wing. Using their muscle, they attacked from the slot. Using their passing, they found open players. The only problem was a goaltender named Kimmy Davidson who was putting on a bit of a clinic. Saskatchewan did find a flaw, though, as Sophie Lalor's shot from the face-off dot appeared to knuckle-puck on Davidson as she got a piece of it, but not all of it with the blocker as it landed in the net to draw Saskatchewan within one goal on Lalor's second tally of the season. As time ticked down, Drever went to the bench, but the Huskies could not find the equalizer as the Bisons withstood the pressure to escape with the 2-1 victory! Kimmy Davidson picked up her first career Canada West win with a 29-save effort while Drever came up on the short end once again despite stopping 19 shots.

The recap is better, but only slightly. The picture? Not Saturday's game. It's not even a game from this season. I'm a little shocked by this effort considering how many media staff the Huskies had on-hand for the weekend set.

Oh, and you wanted highlights? So did I. I even spoke to Linda Walker on the pregame radio show as Linda does colour commentary on the Huskies' Canada West TV broadcasts. They had cameras set up and rolling, they had full play-by-play commentary, and they have not one single, solitary highlight from this game. Honestly, the lack of highlight packages that Canada West schools seem to be endorsing makes it really hard for me to promote the athletes who make this game incredible. Follow Ted Lasso's advice about highlight packages.

Having split with Mount Royal and then sitting idly through a bye week, the Pandas made their way to Regina to face the waiting Cougars on Friday night. Alberta had neither won nor lost in regulation, so they were seeking points in regulation this weekend. Regina, meanwhile, struggled against Saskatchewan one week earlier and were hunting for points of their own. Halle Oswald started for the Pandas in this game while Arden Kliewer was in the blue paint for the Cougars.

The first period saw both teams testing the defensive system of the opponent as there were a handful of shots and a couple of chances. Neither Oswald nor Kliewer were willing participants when it came to goals, so we'd head to the second period with Alberta holding a slight edge in shots at 7-5.

The home team used a couple of power-plays to up their shot totals in the second period, but it was an Ireland Sorestad cross-ice pass tape-to-tape to Lilla Carpenter-Boesch that allowed Carpenter-Boesch to score her first goal of the season past Oswald on the power-play at 7:28 that put the Cougars out in front 1-0. Kliewer denied everything she faced in the second frame as that score held through the break, and we'd move to the third period with Regina leading on the scoreboard, but tied 16-16 in shots with the Pandas.

The Cougars were doing everything they could to ensure victory, but a late penalty to Jordan Kulbida was the break Alberta needed. On the power-play, Allison Reich's wrist shot eluded traffic and Kliewer to find the back of the net for her first Canada West goal at 18:10 that tied the game at 1-1! With no further goals in the period, we'd be off to overtime to find a winner!

The first overtime period solved nothing, so we'll jump to the three-on-three period. Kliewer was busy as she denied Danica Namaka on a breakaway, but Madison Willan wouldn't be denied moments later when she beat the Regina netminder for her second goal and the overtime game-winner as Alberta prevailed in extra time by a 2-1 score! Halle Oswald stopped 21 shots to record the win while Arden Kliewer made 31 saves in the overtime loss.

Yeah, so these highlight packages that teams were, at one time, supposed to produce might be something that Canada West isn't enforcing any longer. I can't get anyone to actually confirm this yet because Canada West won't speak to me directly, but how can it be that Calgary is the only school who did a highlight package this weekend? Regina is apparently allergic to highlights as well based on their lack of new videos on their YouTube channel.

SATURDAY: Alberta is aiming to play a lot of free hockey, it seems, as they have three games to their name with none ending in regulation. They do seem to score the important two points, though, so they have that going for them. Regina would like to hand them a regulation loss in the Queen's City before they leave, though, so Saturday's game was a big one for both teams. Kirsten Chamberlin was in the Alberta net for this game while Arden Kliewer was back in the Regina net looking to avenge the overtime loss from the previous night!

Regina got this one started early as Lilla Carpenter-Boesch scored her second goal in as many days when she found space past Chamberlin from the left hash marks to make it 1-0 at the 2:06 mark. That lead evaporated 5:22 later when Brooklyn Tews loaded up the cannon and hammered a point shot throught traffic and past Kliewer for her first goal of the season to even things at 1-1. The score would remain deadlocked through to the horn as the Pandas carried a 6-3 lead in shots to the second period.

The second period was more defensive play, but the Cougars did get a chance to put more pucks on Chamberlin with a pair of power-play oportunities. Unfortunately, neither would convert, and Kallie Clouston's first Canada West goal at 5:32 made things a little worse as the Pandas took the 2-1 lead. With no other goals scored, that 2-1 lead would need to be protected in the third period by Alberta if they hoped to escape with a clean win.

A Taylor Anker penalty early in the third period was the catalyst the Cougars needed to tie the game. Jordan Kulbida ripped a one-timer off a feed from Megan Long on the power-play that found twine behind Chamberlin for her second goal of the campaign at 6:17, and the game was tied once more at 2-2. Despite 11 Alberta shots and seven Regina shots finding their way to the nets, the Kulbida goal was the only one to light the lamp behind a netminder. Alberta and Regina would need extra time to solve this one for the second night in a row!

The four-on-four overtime produced no goals, so we'll jump to the three-on-three overtime period. On a two-on-one, Danica Namaka fed Payton Laumbach, and Laumbach made no mistake in firing home the overtime game-winning goal at 3:19 for her first goal of the season as Alberta escapes with the 3-2 overtime win! Kirsten Chamberlin earned her first win of the season with 22 saves while Arden Kliewer recorded a second-straight overtime loss despite stopping 22 shots.

Look, I'll make this point here and now: highlights allow me to show off the athletes by giving them this stage. Not many people go scouring through YouTube for Canada West highlights very often based on the number of hits some of the schools have on previous highlight packages, and maybe that discourages them from doing it. But if schools aren't going to make highlight packages, I can't post them here to show off the talented hockey players who make those programs great. As much as I try to shame everyone into doing it on these articles, it seems clear the message isn't being received.
CANADA WEST WOMEN'S HOCKEY
School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
Manitoba
4-1-1-0
10 18 14
W2
vs REG
Mount Royal
3-1-1-1
9 25 9
L1
@ MAC
UBC
4-2-0-0
8 25 8
L1
BYE
Alberta
0-0-3-1
7 9 7
W2
vs CAL
Calgary
3-3-0-0
6 16 21
W1
@ ALB
Saskatchewan
2-1-0-1
5 7 7
L2
@ TWU
MacEwan
2-4-0-0
4 8 16
W1
vs MRU
Regina
1-3-0-2
4 10 14
L5
@ MAN
Trinity Western
0-4-0-0
0 2 24
L4
vs SAS

Clarity

Just a reminder that for the standings shown above, the records are regulation wins-regulation losses-extra time wins-extra time losses. With Canada West women's hockey shifting back to a two-point system, regulation wins and extra time wins factor into the tie-breaker procedures. And just so we're clear on the tie-breaking procedures, this will help.
If we use MacEwan and Regina as the example above as both are tied with four points, Regina and MacEwan split their weekend of games already this year in their only meetings as both teams won by similar 2-1 scores. That takes us down to tie-breaking rule #4 where the total wins matter. MacEwan has two wins to Regina's one, and that's why MacEwan is shown as being ahead of Regina. I have a feeling there will be tie-breakers needed at the end of this season.

Road Trip To A Gem

I decided that, after being cooped up for way too long at home thanks to the pandemic, I needed a break from the mundane routine that I had been following. With the Bisons heading out to Saskatoon this past weekend, I decided to load up the radio gear, point the wheels west, and head out on a road trip to see the Bisons and Huskies battle at Merlis Belsher Place.

I know it's entirely unreasonable to suggest any of the schools in Canada West should get new arenas based on the fact that on-campus sports facilities are luxuries for schools, but the $41 million invested in Merlis Belsher Place is worth it if any schools are thinking about replacing their barns. The amenities, the sightlines, and the overall design work amazingly well.

I want to make mention of both Saskatchewan Huskies video guru/equipment manager/jack-of-all-hockey-trades Dave Westbury and Saskatchewan Huskies head coach Steve Kook who allowed me to see the insides of this amazing facility, and they truly have a gem in Saskatoon. From NHL-style dressing rooms and video rooms to full medical rooms to a player's lounge that I could truly live in, the Huskies are doing things right when it comes to taking care of their players.

I won't reveal any details here of what I saw as per my promises to both Steve and Dave on the tour, but Merlis Belsher Place needs to be visited by hockey fans. The building's facade is a breathtaking display of architectural design for what amounts to a "school rink", but the treasures contained inside are just as impressive, if not moreso. If you get a chance to take a trip out to Saskatoon for a game, I highly recommend going. Not only is the facility incredible, but the hockey action on the ice is pretty darn entertaining too!

The Last Word

It should be noted that U SPORTS will release their first Women's Hockey Top Ten rankings this Wednesday, and I want to inject a few grains of salt into this early excitement for some teams. That's not to say that there shouldn't be excitement over the rankings if your favorite team is named, but we need to keep things in perspective.

I'll get it on the record that the AUS has already completed eight games for every team in their conference while the majority of Canada West has played six games. UNB, Saint Mary's, and StFX will likely all be named as Top Ten teams due to having six wins through eight games. Manitoba and Mount Royal may be named after their strong starts to the season in Canada West.

But that's what is known thus far so this is where the asterisk appears in this section.

The RSEQ has played two games total for all its teams thus far, and both McGill and Carleton got off to 2-0 starts. Concordia and Montreal, the two powerhouses in that conference, started the season 0-1-1 and 0-2-0, respectively, yet there's no reason to believe they won't be competing for a playoff spot or more when the regular season ends. Don't put too much faith in any rankings of RSEQ teams just yet. McGill and Carleton may be the two best teams in the conference when all is said and done, but two games into this season doesn't warrant confetti and streamers.

Beyond that, the OUA begins their regular season on the same day the rankings come out - Wednesday, November 3. Not one of the OUA teams have played a single minute of regular season action yet, so the ranked OUA teams will be projections on how the "experts" believe those teams will do this season. Until those results bear weight, they're virtually meaningless in the same vein as the Canada West coaches' poll.

There will be ups, downs, wins, losses, streaks, and a pile of other variables that will come into play across all the conferences and affect many, if not all, the teams in those conferences. Have fun with the rankings when they're released, but know that rankings this early, with every team in Quebec and Ontario having barely played, basically mean you know who to cheer for or against early in this season depending on your allegiances to those teams.

Wanna know who is the best in the conference where you're situated? Go see the teams play. Judge for yourself. Enjoy the hockey. At the end of the day, the rankings are nothing more than points of pride for teams to brag about until the U SPORTS National Tournament. Smile, discuss, and debate the rankings, but don't write them in ink with two conferences barely playing any games yet.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 30 October 2021

Was This Planned For Halloween?

With the introduction of the Kraken into the NHL, they seem to have opened the sea folklore to the hockey world. While Jerry Bruckheimer's influence on the hockey world comes with ownership of the Kraken, there are other instances of sea creatures and sea folks such as the New York Islanders, the Portland Pirates, the Maine Mariners, and the San Jose Sharks. The folklore part hasn't really been explored, though, as the Kraken is thought to be more legend than reality, but Friday's announcement combines the sea folklore with a touch of Halloween.

The ECHL will expand into Savannah, Georgia next year, and, while this isn't new news, the name of the team revealed today is as the Savannah Ghost Pirates will take to the ice next season! I chuckled at the name first because of how minor-league it sounds, but the more I thought about the name and the potential it has for fun promotions, the more I warmed to the name.

"It was important that the name reflect the culture of our team's City. Savannah is steeped in history and folklore, and we feel this name embodies that spirit," explained Ghost Pirates President Bob Ohrablo. "It was also important to us that we wait to announce the name when we could be here with our partners at the City, Enmarket Arena, and most importantly our fans."

It should be noted that Savannah, Georgia boasts The Pirate's House, a former inn that became a place for sailors of all varieties to gather for food and drink. Built in 1734, The Pirate's House was mentioned in Robert Louis Stevenson's book Treasure Island as Captain Flint brings his crew to the city, and the historic building stands as Georgia's oldest structure. There are likely all sorts of ghost stories that haunt this old place.

There is a walking tour in Savannah that deals entirely with the history of pirates in the Georgia city. From the early instances of pirates landing in Savannah to "river pirates" to Blackbeard Island, the walking tour goes through the decades of parate activity in and around Savannah and its coastal region. Needless to say, Savannah history is rich with stories of pirates, so the hockey team may have selected a great name to represent the city and region.

Regarding the logo above that the team will wear, the Savannah ECHL group contacted Dan Simon and his team at Studio Simon in Louisville, Kentucky to develop the brand. It's a fun take on a hockey-playing pirate ghost that should appeal to all ages, and I like the use of the green colour in the colour scheme as that's a colour that I feel is sorely underused in hockey. If the Ghost Pirates opt for a green jersey, it might be an addition to my jersey collection.

As announced yesterday, the Ghost Pirates will introduce the usual expansion team fodder in the coming months as a mascot, team jerseys, pro hockey affiliations, the naming of a coach, the signing the first player, and a pile more news awaits hockey fans. One of the cooler things the team is doing to generate a little interest in the squad is introduction of a street hockey program throughout Southeastern Georgia that will start in the spring. There's no better way to make fans than inviting them to come and play, and it appears the Ghost Pirates are on the right track when it comes to being added to the pirate folklore in the city and region.

It appears the Ghost Pirates are writing a good start to their tale in Savannah with a fun name that incorporates a lot of Savannah's culture. Teams should be tied to their cities in some way to appeal to the citizens who live there and are immersed in the culture as well some of the tourism ideas while still be catchy and modern enough to appeal to people who may not be immediate fans of the sport or team. It appears that the Savannah Ghost Pirates have checked all those boxes, and I'm excited to see the next chapter in this ghost story!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 29 October 2021

Bisons Gameday!

Road trips are always fun. I've been lucky enough to ride the coattails of the Bisons women's hockey team to places thanks to our efforts to broadcast their games back to their fans. When I think of the places we've gone, we broadcasted games from Thompson Arena on the campus of Western University in London. We called games from MacLauchlan Arena on the UPEI campus in Charlottetown. We've stopped in for exhibition games at the Tundra Oil and Gas Place in Virden, Manitoba. I consider myself pretty lucky to have visited these great arenas and communities while supporting the Bisons, so let's add one more name to that list this weekend!

The Manitoba Bisons women's hockey team is on the road to play the Saskatchewan Huskies tonight and tomorrow at the state-of-the-art Merlis Belsher Place. Being that I've been cooped up for way too long through the pandemic and with hockey finally becoming a reality again, I figured now is a good time to take a break from everything Winnipeg and make the trip west to our neighbouring province to call these games!

For the first time in UMFM history, we'll air this weekend's regular season road games for listeners! This won't be over the usual UMFM airwaves, though, as there are still restrictions at the University of Manitoba that will prevent that, but you can listen all weekend on a special stream we have set up for this specific set of games! Click the button below at 7:30pm CT, and you'll hear my voice talking Canada West women's hockey!


Of course, you can always go directly to the site where we set this alternate stream idea up and listen there as well. As you likely know, the men's hockey team is hosting Mike Babcock and the Saskatchewan Huskies men's hockey team this weekend at Wayne Fleming Arena, so don't go looking for the women's game on the UMFM Second Stream as the men have it occupied!

I'll be on the road most of today so I'll be off the grid, but I'd be remiss in not pointing out that this week's CTV Winnipeg Sports Star of the Week is someone we know quite well. Here's the video. Ashley Keller is going to have a long, successful career with the Bisons based on her first couple of weeks of play in Canada West, and we're excited to see her do more great things in the brown-and-gold uniform! You can hear her and the Bisons battle the undefeated Saskatchewan Huskies tonight and tomorrow on the stream above as UMFM's Bisons women's hockey broadcasts come to you live from Merlis Belsher Place in Saskatoon!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 28 October 2021

The Hockey Show - Episode 475

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight on the UMFM airwaves with a great guest who has done all sorts of amazing things in her career thus far, and we're pretty sure she's destined for greatness in the future as well. If you're not aware, The Hockey Show is proud of Manitoba athletes who have taken their talents elsewhere, and tonight's guest is one of thos players as she calls Calgary home presently - and perhaps the future? - as she takes classes and writes her name in the Mount Royal Cougars' history books with all the memorable things she has done!

Teebz sits down with Mount Royal Cougars captain Tatum Amy as we hear all about the Birtle, Manitoba native's life and career! Our host talks to Tatum about growing up in a town of 700 people, joining the MFHL's Yellowhead Chiefs at a very young age, a major highlight she accomplished there, being recruited by Mount Royal, why she chose Mount Royal, joining the squad, and writing her name into the history books with all the firsts she's accomplished as a part of the Cougars. Even more interesting is her volunteer work and her newest accomplishment of being named as one of six Canadian U SPORTS female hockey players in the Creating Coaches program, and we talk about all of that as well! It's a very interesting show with a woman who has accomplished a ton of amazing stuff in her career thus far, so make sure you tune in at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via UMFM.com to hear the chat!

Where's the best place can you hear tonight's show if you're outside Winnipeg or not near a radio, you ask? The new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome if you want to listen online. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, so if you want to stream the show I'd recommend Radio Garden to do that as it works nicely with Safari. If you're more of an app person, we recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or Google Play Store. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

If you have questions, you can email all show queries and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! I'm here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz goes one-on-one with Mount Royal Cougars captain Tatum Amy as we learn about growing up in Manitoba, winning championships, joining the Mount Royal Cougars, the growth of that program, being part of history for that school, the Creating Coaches program, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: October 28, 2021: Episode 475

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

The Chicago Cesspool

I'm going to start this article by stating that the elephant in the room isn't what was contained in the report filed by Jenner and Block yesterday. I slept on this because I wanted to make sure that all of the pieces that were still in the air on Tuesday had a chance to land, and things could be approached with a clear mind. I won't deny that I'm angry about what the repoNick Boynton and Brent Sopel, former skills coach Paul Vincent and former associate coach John Torchettirt detailed in terms of men who stood idly by why a predator took full advantage of the opportunity provided by their silences. I'm furious that people were allowed to "step away" or whatever garbage term one wants to use. But we need to peer deeper into this cesspool known as the Chicago Blackhawks because there were all sorts of people who simply looked the other way when crimes were being committed by employees of the team.

Being around the game for as long as I have, there's a saying that winning covers up a lot of flaws. There's no doubt that the Blackhawks won in 2010 as the Stanley Cup parade in that city and the names on the side of the Stanley Cup are proof of the win. The allegations made by former first-round pick Kyle Beach - his identity was revealed in a TSN interview with Rick Westhead tonight - towards the management group of the Blackhawks also proves that the temptation of winning supercedes any notion of being a morally-upstanding person.

The group of then- Blackhawks President John McDonough, then-Senior Vice President Jay Blunk, General Manager Stan Bowman, then-Senior Director of Hockey Administration Al MacIsaac, then-Assistant General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, then-Head Coach Joel Quenneville, and then-Mental Skills Coach Jim Gary should be fired into the sun and never heard from in any sporting role ever again. These men represent most of the upper hierarchy in the Blackhawks' front office, and they were complicit in allowing Brad Aldrich to commit heinous crimes against Kyle Beach and, indirectly, many others players. Their willingness to "look the other way" during a Stanley Cup run where Beach was a Black Ace speaks volumes about the lack of moral currency there is in hockey culture.

Former teammates Nick Boynton and Brent Sopel, former skills coach Paul Vincent, and former associate coach John Torchetti all confirmed Beach's allegations on their own, and these four men should be people one would want on a hockey team. They've proven that their moral compasses are intact with their stepping forward to support Beach, and I'd hope that teams who are searching for staff will add their names to lists if they aren't already there. They deserve the commendations I'm giving them for not being afraid to knock a few people off their pedestals.

"They are heroes to me," Beach told Westhead in his interview. "I could never thank them enough."

Beach, it should be noted, played most of the 2009-10 season with the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL, but did return to the AHL for four games before being made a Black Ace with the Blackhawks for their playoff run. Beach was solid in the AHL with three goals in four games before his life was shattered by Aldrich directly and the seven men named above who deserve a fate worse than hell for their involvement and/or silence. But it's the fact that he went to Rockford for a few games that triggered a memory for me because that franchise has its own ugly set of incidents with which it had to deal.

If you recall, Alim Aliu stepped forward in November 2019 with accusations that Bill Peters, head coach of the Rockford IceHogs in 2009-10, "used a racial slur 'several times' because he did not like the choice of music being played in the team dressing room." This accusation was confirmed by two of Aliu's teammates from that Rockford team as Simon Pepin and Peter MacArthur both confirmed the incident happened.

In the days following Aliu's allegations, Carolina Hurricanes defender Michal Jordan alleged he was kicked and punched in the head on the bench by Peters when he played for Carolina, and that account was confirmed by Rod Brind'Amour who had been an assistant coach under Peters with Carolina. The end results was that these players speaking up forced Peters to resign from the Calgary Flames as their head coach days later.

If we narrow our focus on the 2009-10 season only, though, that's a sexual assault at the NHL level and a racist outburst at the AHL level under the Chicago Blackhawks' umbrella of business from people who are supposed to be helping players develop and get to the next level. A second-round pick of the Blackhawks in 2007 (Aliu) and a first-round pick in 2008 (Beach) both had their careers derailed by people they were supposed to trust, and neither of them ever found a home in the NHL. Both Pepin and MacArthur wondered aloud to TSN if Aliu would have had a longer NHL career than seven games he played if it wasn't derailed at the start. I'm now in the same boat, to be honest.

In knowing all this, Kevin Cheveldayoff would have been overseeing the Rockford IceHogs that year as the assistant GM, so Beach's allegations are the second incident from that year in which he was involved. Exactly what the hell was going on in Chicago in 2010 where everyone suddenly went blind when it came to right versus wrong?

Let's run down those who shouldn't be on any NHL payroll now or in the future:
  • Stan Bowman: stepped down from all hockey jobs, but should never work in sports again.
  • Joel Quenneville: still employed by the Panthers, but should never work in hockey again.
  • Kevin Cheveldayoff: still employed by the Jets, but should never work in hockey again.
  • Bill Peters: still employed by the KHL's Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, and should rot there.
There are eight men and one convicted sex offender who the Blackhawks employed in 2009-10 that destroyed the careers of at least two young hockey players who appeared to have the talents to skate in the show one day. When Graham James' crimes against players were exposed, the hockey world howled for his capture and imprisonment due to the abuse he inflicted on a number of players.

Yesterday, we heard terms like "unfortunate incident", "deserved better", "too bad that that happened", and "unacceptable". All of those terms minimize what Aldrich did - he committed sexual assault and sexual harassment on a number of occasions, and we need to describe these incidents with the proper word: they are CRIMES. These is no gray area here because the law makes it clear that what Aldrich did to Beach and others is definitely a criminal activity. Calling it anything else effectively minimizes the severity of the crime and the trauma to Aldrich's victims. Use the proper word when describing this situation, I beg you.

Because we're defining Aldrich's actions as crimes, we should be demanding that all seven of the men in the report be treated as if they were criminals because it's pretty clear that they all were complicit in covering up these crimes or were possible enablers of the criminal in question. I can't see any resolution meeting public approval that doesn't involve removing all of these men from their positions within hockey and possibly banning them from future employment in NHL circles in any capacity.

Bill Peters' future appears to be exclusively written in Russian as he's already radioactive to NHL teams, so his punishment seems to be ongoing which is satisfactory for me. It doesn't excuse his abhorrent behaviour in any way, but it almost ensures that we'll never hear from him again. And the hockey world may be better off for it.

If there's one thing that has become apparent tonight, it's that Kyle Beach is one of the most courageous people on the planet. He stood up to the establishment and forced it to look inwards which is something that rarely happens. While I'm sure there will still be pain and trauma he'll need to work through, I can honestly say that Kyle Beach is a hero and I'd be proud to wear his name and number on my back. Granted, it will never be in a Blackhawks uniform for all the obvious reasons above, but the man is more than a survivor tonight. He's an inspiration, he's a role model, and he's one of the strongest hockey people I know.

Kyle Beach is a hero. For all the right reasons.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

A Jersey Story

I think I've rewritten this introductory paragraph a dozen times in light of what has surfaced today in the NHL surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks. I will speak about that tomorrow rather than sending this effort down the drain, but I think there needs to be a lot of reading done with the report that was put out, a lot of soul-searching that needs to be done by the NHL, its member teams, its players, and its fans, and everyone needs to take a deep breath surrounding this scandal because this may only be the beginning. Without getting into that further, though, let's explore a jersey story that involved the jersey and the player shown above.

We'll jump back to the spring of 2001 when I received a phone call from a friend who had a wild and crazy idea: we should go see the Oilers in the playoffs this year. Admittedly, I wasn't very fond of this idea off the top because I was not an Oilers fan by any means in that era, and watching the Oilers in the playoffs was something I wasn't doing often as it was.

My friend was persistent, though, and he eventually wore me down on the idea that we'd have a good time, see some live NHL hockey, and have some laughs in Edmonton. The one caveat that he had for the trip was that we had to get a jersey to look like we were one of the Oilers' faithful. Again, my nose wrinkled at the suggestion of buying a jersey for a team that I disliked, but October 26, 2001 was the exact day that the Oilers rolled out their new alternate jersey that was designed by Oilers co-owner and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane.

I went to my trusty jersey guy at that time and asked what the chances were that he could source an Oilers alternate jersey within four to six weeks so I could wear at the Oilers' playoff games that spring. He laughed at first, knowing that the Oilers alternate jersey was a popular piece of merchandise, but he realize that I was serious and set about finding a jersey.

A few weeks later, he had pulled enough strings to get me a jersey, and I was set for Edmonton. Let's just say that hearing the hype of NHL Playoffs and all that was enough to change my tune about seeing the Oilers play. We arrived in Edmonton for Games Three and Four on April 17 and 19, respectively!

The NHL rules were pretty strict about teams being unable to wear their alternate uniforms for the playoffs, but that didn't stop the Oilers' crowd from wearing them. Nearly every person inside the Skyreach Centre had a jersey on from every era. Home jerseys, road jerseys, and a smattering of these new alternate jerseys were seen throughout the crowd as the teams took to the ice for warmups. Radek Dvorak, above, was looking spiffy in his home whites, but that picture I snapped took some negotiation to get with an usher.

I had brought my camera to me to capture the sights of NHL Playoff hockey since the Jets were long gone to the desert climate in Phoenix and the Thrashers were a decade from being moved north of the border. Thinking it would be no big deal to head down to the bottom reaches of the stairs behind the benches, I made my way from my seat to the lower areas of the rink where a kindly seat usher stopped me cold in my tracks.

She informed me that they weren't allowed to allowed to let people into sections for which they didn't hold tickets due to safety concerns, so I told her that I worked for The Manitoban, the University of Manitoba's newspaper, and I was doing a story about the return of the NHL to Winnipeg one day. My story was based on population size, climate, and arena sizes, and the Oilers fit all three of those criteria well when it came to accurate comparisons.

The catch? None of that story was true. I had no story and I certainly wasn't employed by the newspaper in any capacity. Heck, I didn't even attend the University of Manitoba. The entire time I was laying this fabrication on this sweet, older lady, though, she was listening intently to every word I said.

After a few seconds of deliberation, she looked me square in the eye and asked, "How long have you been an Oilers fan?"

"Ever since the Jets left. It's why I'm here - cheer on the team!" Sorry, Miss Usher. I lied to you again.

"Alright," she said, firmly. "We're not supposed to do this, but go down, take your pictures during the next break, and get going back to your seat!"

I scrambled down, snapped a few pictures including the one to the left and the one of Dvorak above, and got out of Dodge before anyone knew I had been there. That excitement became madness in the third period of Game Three when, down 2-0 and looking outplayed, the Oilers stormed back with two Ryan Smyth goals in 56 seconds at the end of the period to make it a 2-2 game! The Skyreach Centre's roof almost came off with the energy in the building!

Benoit Hogue would play the ultimate villain, however, as his goal at the end of the first overtime period sent Oilers fans home unhappy as the 3-2 overtime loss moved Dallas to a 2-1 series lead. Would Game Four be any better?

Anson Carter scored in the first period while Mike Keane evened the game at 1-1 in the second period. With no scoring in the third period, out trip ended with a bang as Mike Comrie sent the fans home elated with his power-play marker in overtime to even the series at 2-2! We wouldn't be in Edmonton for Game Six as the Stars came back to Edmonton up 3-2 in the series and finished it off, but my jersey saw the Oilers go 1-1 in person during the playoffs, saw me tell a pile of lies to an usher, and saw me enjoy some Edmonton's nightlife as we truly did have a blast for those four days in April 2001.

You might be asking what the Adam Oates connection is since he wasn't mentioned at all in the story above (and would have been playing for the Washington Capitals in the playoffs that year). Having not seen the Oilers wear this jersey, there were thoughts that Ryan Smith would be the best player to get on the back as he was the heart and soul of the Oilers for so long.

The problem is that my jersey collections feature a lot of cameos from players and a lot of ugly jerseys. I truly believe that this Oilers jersey is their best alternate uniform ever designed and worn, so the "ugly jersey" criterion won't be filled with my Oilers alternate jersey. That means it came down to a cameo from a player, and I had literally settled on three names - Petr Nedved #93, Sergei Samsonov #12, or Adam Oates #77.

Since I already own a Petr Nedved jersey, that eliminated him from the running. Samsonov would have been my choice for the this jersey had Adam Oates not worn the Oilers' 25th anniversary patch, and I wanted something on the front to make this jersey unique. As a result, Adam Oates' one season in Edmonton in 2003-04 where he wore the alternate jersey in a handful of games with the patch on the front became the choice for my Oilers alternate jersey.

Twenty years ago today, the Oilers unveiled their McFarlane alternate jersey to the world, and my jersey has quite the travel tale to go along with it. Adam Oates' name on the back fits the theme of my jerseys more than it fits the story about the 2001 Oilers' playoff games, but that's the entire tome behind my Oilers alternate jersey that turned twenty today.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 25 October 2021

Have You Heard About Owen?

I'll be upfront and tell your right at the beginning of this article that I am not superstitious whatsoever. I believe that effort and hard work put in will result in good things at the end, and that streaks are a combination of hard work and a dash of luck. Luck, as you know, can go both ways, so you may see players working hard without the results they desire, and this "snakebitten" player usually starts to see his or her confidence erode as the chances simply won't go in. The Chicago Blackhawks are a whole other story this season as they seemingly have been working hard, but the results aren't there.

Maybe you believe in karma? After all the news that broke out of the Windy City about the Blackhawks and their cover-up of sexual assaults and every denial about knowing it was going on during their championship run in 2010, perhaps the "Hockey Gods" are exacting some revenge on a team that looked like it would compete this year. Chicago has started the season 0-5-1 thus far, and they have looked rather terrible in doing so which results in the image above where head coach Jeremy Colliton handed a blank whiteboard to the players on the ice for them to draw up their own scheme for goals against the Red Wings.

Maybe you believe that handing players insane contracts for insane lengths of time have contributed to the mess we're seeing in Chicago? The Kane contract and the Toews contract were hard to stomach at the time of them signing their $10.5 million deals, but GM Stan Bowman went ahead and threw some additional gasoline on the fire by signing former Blue Jackets defender Seth Jones to an eight-year, $9.5 million deal that all but assured that the Blackhawks would be filling most roster spots with AHL talent.

It doesn't matter if the Blackhawks went out and acquired the reigning Vezina Trophy winner in Marc-Andre Fleury if he has no one that can help him. Eight of the Blackhawks forwards are signed to deals for $1 million or less - a figure near the league-minimum for contract value. The four defenders the Blackhawks have sunk the most money into - Jones, Calvin De Haan, Jake McCabe, and Connor Murphy - aren't really the kind of defenders that are seen as dynamic or stoppers in the NHL. They buried Brett Connelly in the minors at $2,375,000 for this season and the next, and have Dylan Strome watching from the pressbox for $3 million as they try to work out a trade to move him. And to add a little more salt to this wound, the Blackhawks are without Patrick Kane, Riley Stillman, and Jujhar Khaira due to COVID-19 protocols.

This team is an absolute mess right now, and laying blame at the feet of one person isn't really fair despite Bowman's inability to extract value out of anyone while overpaying for players who may never live up to the value of their contracts.

Perhaps you think I'm being too harsh on a team that's clearly transitioning to a new era of players following Stanley Cup successes. In that regard, consider this stat: the Blackhawks have yet to lead in any game this season, trailing for a whopping 360:57! They've been booed off the ice by United Center fans three times in six games, and their sellout streak at the arena came to an end on Sunday as there were tickets available the game for the first time in 535 contests.

All of these factors have the Blackhawks searching for answers, but they aren't losing their perspective on the remaining games in the season.

"I believe we have the makings of a good group," Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton told reporters on Sunday night. "We haven't put it together yet, so we need to. I feel like we can play a brand of hockey and be a team that people in Chicago are proud of, but we got to deliver."

It's fairly clear in watching this Blackhawks team that there are systemic problems all over the ice, and that leads back to the systems being run by Colliton and his staff. The Blackhawks, who don't have overly imposing forwards, are chipping pucks in deep and looking for recoveries when it seems clear that they have the talent to be able to skate the puck in with possession and try to generate offensive chances. Their defenders aren't particularly skilled at pinching in to keep pucks alive in the offensive zone, so it seems like the Blackhawks spend more time defending than generating offence.

Chicago currently has the third-worst Expected Goals-For at 42.22% as per Natural Hat Trick. Some of that is due to a woefully low shooting percentage as the Blackhawks simply can't hit twine with their shots, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that they're chasing pucks they've chipped into the offensive zone as opposed to maintaining possession. And while shooting percentages will regress back to the mean and we'll see the Blackhawks score more goals at some point, they'll need to shore up their defensive zone as well. In all six games thus far, no team has scored less than four goals per game. That's a death sentence for any hockey team that's struggling to score as it is.

The Blackhawks will play the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, and one has to wonder if either team will snap out of their early-season funks. After that, they have dates with the combined 10-0 Carolina Hurricanes and St. Louis Blues on back-to-back nights, so October's horror show may continue into November if the Blackhawks can't find a way to win this week.

Blackhawks fans may want to get used to the new kid that Chicago management has brought in. His name is Owen, and he isn't often seen in Chicago, especially around the United Center. However, if this Owen Six kid becomes Owen Nine, I suspect there may be dramatic changes on the horizon in Chicago come November.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 24 October 2021

The Rundown - Week 2

It's Sunday, so The Rundown returns with all the action from Canada West women's hockey! We had some interesting match-ups this week as Saskatchewan played its first games against their provincial rivals in Regina. The top two teams from week #1 met in Vancouver as the Bisons tangled with the Thunderbirds. MacEwan went south for their first interprovincial battle with the Dinos. Mount Royal welcomed Trinity Western to their barn for the first time. And Alberta had the week off. There's lots to discuss this week, so let's take a look at who did what on which day on The Rundown>!

FRIDAY:The 1-1-0-0 MacEwan Griffins made the trek from Edmonton to Calgary where the 0-2-0-0 Dinos were waiting for them. Having split with Regina, the confidence was high on the Griffins' side while the Dinos returned from Manitoba licking their wounds. Home-openers are always exciting, though, so the Dinos looked to rebound while the Griffins aimed to keep the Dinos behind them in the standings! Natalie Bender got the start in this game for MacEwan while the Dinos went back to Gabriella Durante in their crease.

A spirited MacEwan team came out and peppered Durante in the first period with 14 shots, but the Calgary netminder looked sharp on all chances as she kept the Griffins off the board. At the other end, Calgary's five shots kept Bender in the game, but she was certainly tested less than Durante. Neither would allow a goal, though, so we'd move to the second period tied at 0-0.

Calgary looked more aggressive in the second period as they began to get more pucks on net, and they'd be rewarded for that effort. Sage Desjardins would break the deadlock when she ripped a shot high blocker-side on Bender from the right hashmarks, and Calgary had the 1-0 lead at 9:02. Calgary would double their lead later in the period after a monster collision. Alli Borrow cut across the blueline and got caught in the trolley tracks as Amanda Murray caught her going east-west with what appeared to be a knee-on-knee collision. As Borrow laid on the ice, the puck came to Taylor Beck whose initial shot was stopped, but she followed up on the rebound, found the loose puck, and pushed it across the line at the 15:54 mark for the 2-0 Calgary lead. Borrow spent the rest of the period on the bench, but she and her teammates would head into the intermission with the two-goal lead.

The good news for Dinos fans was that Borrow returned to the bench for the third period and appeared to have shaken off the Murray hit. The Griffins would cut the lead to one goal five minutes into the third period when aforementioned Amanda Murray's wrist shot from the half-boards appeared to go off a defender in front of Durante, catching her by surprise as the red light as lit at the 5:00 mark to make it a 2-1 game on Murray's first career Canada West goal. Just past the halfway point of the period, Rebecca Clarke drove the Griffins' zone hard, cut around the net, and fed a pinching Kate Wagner who ripped a one-timer that hit Bender, but wasn't fully stopped as it found twine at 11:37 to restore the two-goal cushion for the Dinos on Wagner's first career Canada West marker! The Dinos would simply run out the clock on the Griffins for the remainder of the game as they claimed their first win of the season by a 3-1 score! Gabriella Durante picked up the win in a 28-save effort while Natalie Bender took the loss despite stopping 28 pucks as well.

Highlights of this game are below!

SATURDAY: After claiming their first win of the season to pull even with MacEwan in the standings, the Dinos looked to step ahead of the Griffins with a second win and move back to .500. The Griffins had their own dreams of moving to .500 and keeping the Dinos buried beneath them, so today's game had a big effect on the standings early in this Canada West season. Brianna Sank got the start for the Griffins while Gabriella Durante got her fourth-straight start of the season in the Dinos' net!

Calgary came out of the gates more aggressive than they did one night earlier, and they'd be rewarded for it with a goal. Some early pressure on the Griffins' goal resulted in nothing, but the puck came back to the point where Emily Hill teed it up from the middle of the ice and the puck found its way through the maze of humanity standing in front of Sank inside the blocker-side post to put Calgary up 1-0 at the 13:24 mark! Calgary would hold that one-goal lead into the intermission after leading 12-6 in shots in the opening frame.

The second period was back-and-forth as both teams looked for goals, but neither Sank nor Durante were particularly interested in helping the opposition with that idea. Calgary would finally break through late in the period. After Kallie O'Hearn rung a shot off the post for MacEwan, Holly Reuther took a pass at the blueline from Elizabeth Lang, stepped into the high slot area, and ripped a wrist shot past Sank on the stick side at 15:09 to make it a 2-0 game for the Dinos! That lead would carry into the break as the Dinos held a 22-20 edge in shots heading into the final frame.

The third period started the same as the second did with both teams looking for scores, but nothing took until midway through the period. On the power-play, Kyrelle Skoye's low wrist shot was deflected by Chantal Ricker in front past Durante at 11:26, and the Griffins were on the board at 2-1 with Ricker's power-play marker! Time would become the enemy of the Griffins, and they looked to push the play. However, a turnover at their blueline late in the game allowed Reuther to break in on the two-on-one with Lang. Reuther fed Lang, Lang went upstairs on the stick side on Sank, and Calgary's third goal at 18:52 sealed the deal as they captured their second win over the Griffins by the 3-1 score! Durante improved to 2-2-0 on the season with a 29-save performance while Sank suffered her first loss in Canada West after stopping 31 shots on this night.

Highlights of this game are below!

After a battle with the Pandas where they split games in extra time one week earlier, the Cougars returned home to host their home opener against the Trinity Western Spartans. The Spartans were looking to erase a blowout last weekend after dropping a pair to UBC, so they'd need a big effort in Calgary this weekend. Mable Maltais got the start got the visiting Spartans while Zoe De Beauville was in net for the Cougars in their first home game.

As you read last weekend, this blog isn't about celebrating blowouts. That foreshadowing will tell you all you need to know about Friday's game between the Spartans and Cougars. Courtney Kollman scored at 6:37 while Aliya Johma made it 2-0 at 17:09 for the Cougars through one period of play.

Mackenzie Butz made it 3-0 at 9:49 before Kollman added her second of the game at 12:37 for the 4-0 lead. Ryleigh White one-timed a loose puck from the top of the right face-off circle past De Beauville for her first career Canada West goal at 16:59, but the 4-1 lead for the Cougars carried into the break.

Breanne Trotter made it 5-1 on the power-play just 16 seconds into the final frame. Laura Cook scored another power-play goal at 4:12 before Emma Bergesen added the seventh Mount Royal goal 59 seconds later. 38 seconds after that, Taylor Sawka scored her first career Canada West goal to make it 8-1, and it was simply game management from there for the Cougars as they trounced the Spartans by that 8-1 score. Zoe De Beauville earned the win with a 15-save night while Mabel Maltais stopped 44 of 52 shots in the loss.

Highlights are supposed to be here, but it seems that Mount Royal isn't into the whole "highlights of games" thing this early in the season. I know they aired the games on Canada West TV, so where are the highlights? Get it together, MRU.

SATURDAY: Friday didn't go well for the Spartans, so there was hope that Saturday might see Trinity Western post a win or a point if they could push Mount Royal to extra time. The Cougars were looking for more regulation wins in order to keep pace with other teams ahead of them, so they had a purpose in this game. Kate Fawcett would try her luck in the crease in this game while Zoe De Beauville was back in the blue paint for Mount Royal.

Again, I'm not going to dive deep into this one as there's a clear disparity between the two score lines in the boxscore. Captain Tatum Amy got things rolling for the Cougars 3:34 into this game with her first of the season. Sydney Benko scored her first career Canada West goal at 14:49 which opened the floodgates for the Cougars. Tianna Ko added the third MRU goal of the period on the power-play at 16:15, and 1:05 after that marker saw Kaia Borbandy score her first Canada West goal. Mount Royal stood tall with a 4-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Mount Royal had the upper hand all night on TWU, and they simply managed the game after putting four on the board in the first period. Taylor Sawka added a power-play goal late in the second period at 17:38 for the 5-0 lead, but the Cougars had this one under control with the five-goal advantage and outshooting the Spartans 30-11 through two periods of play.

The third period didn't see the Cougars let up in the shots-on-net department, but they were very disciplined in front of De Beauville as the final horn sounded on the 5-0 victory for Mount Royal on this night. Zoe De Beauville stopped 17 shots for her first shutout of the season while Kate Fawcett stopped 38 shots in the loss.

Highlights? You want highlights? Mount Royal doesn't do highlights, apparently. Give the people what they want, MRU. Get some highlight packages together. Pronto.

It's been a long, long time since the Saskatchewan Huskies had played meaningful hockey, and, after watching for the first week due to their bye week, they were finally back in action as they travelled south to meet their interprovincial rivals in the Regina Cougars. The Cougars returned home after having split the weekend set with MacEwan last week, and they were looking to improve their record with a home-opener win! Camryn Drever got the start for the Huskies in this game while Katie Crowther went to the net for the Cougars!

Saskatchewan went to work early in this one as Kate Ball gave the visitors the early lead when she sniped a wrist shot from just inside the right face-off circle that found its way through Crowther's wickets for the 1-0 Huskies lead just 5:46 into the game! The extra time off seems to have benefitted the Huskies as they were the more aggressive team in the first period, and they'd be rewarded for their drives to the net when Kara Kondrat's partial breakaway goal made it a two-goal lead at 17:32 to send the teams into the break with Saskatchewan up 2-0 in goals and 11-6 in shots.

Regina wasn't content with being held scoreless in the first period, and they came out far hungrier in the second period as they began to pepper Drever in the Saskatchewan end. They'd be rewarded when Lilla Carpenter-Boesch skated into the slot against some rather passive Saskatchewan defence and backhanded a shot on net that Drever stopped, but she couldn't deny Makenna Kushniruk on the left side of the crease as she shovelled the rebound into the net for her first career Canada West goal at 3:11. Again, Regina kept coming at the Huskies, outshooting Saskatchewan 17-6 in the frame, but Drever would only allow the single goal as we'd move to the third period with the Huskies leading 2-1.

An early interference penalty by Isabella Pozzi would send Regina to the power-play 44 seconds into the frame, and they'd capitalize. Jordan Kulbida's shot from the left half-boards was stopped by Drever, but Ireland Sorestad, flying in from the point, chipped the rebound past the netminder for the power-play goal as Sorestad tied the game 2-2 at the 1:52 mark! Regina continued to throw everything at the net as they attempted to find a winner, but Saskatchewan's Kennedy Brown drove the Regina net late in the game, and she found enough room for a goal as she jammed the puck home from the side of the net with 6:07 to play as the Huskies took the 3-2 lead. The Huskies would lock down the defensive zone for the final five minutes as Regina couldn't find the equalizer, and Saskatchewan claimed the 3-2 victory. Camryn Drever was solid in stopping 32 shots for the win while Katie Crowther made 19 stops in absorbing the loss.

It's fun to find out that schools seemingly have zero desire to market their athletes or programs by not posting highlight packages. Regina is one of those schools who hasn't posted a single highlight package to their YouTube channel since 2020, and have posted just one thing in the last 12 months. Get it together, Regina. Post highights. Any highlights. Something is... well, you get the idea.

The second-half of the weekend set was back in Saskatoon as the Huskies welcomed fans to Merlis Belsher Place for their home opener with the Cougars coming to town. Regina was looking to find more than two goals in a game as they had scored that many in each of their first three games while the Huskies were looking to put on a show in their first home game. Aren Kliewer got the nod for the Cougars in this one while Camryn Drever started for Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan enjoyed the early lead last night, so they went off and did it again on Saturday as Jasper Desmarais scored her first career Canada West goal just 3:36 into the contest to put the Huskies up 1-0! Saskatchewan certainly was putting on a show in the first period as they sent 13 pucks at Kliewer in the opening frame, but Desmarais' shot was the only one to find twine. Saskatchewan went into the break up 1-0 and holding a 13-6 advantage in shots.

With Rachel O'Toole in the penalty box early in the second period, the Huskies' power-play went to work. Sophie Lalor's point shot found room through traffic and got past Kliewer at 3:14 to double the Saskatchewan lead, and Jordyn Holmes scored her first career Canada West goal at 9:16 to make it a 3-0 game in favour of the Huskies. The Cougars looked to cut into that lead when Lauren Focht was hauled down and awarded a penalty shot, but Drever was having none of that as she denied the Regina shooter with 41 seconds to play in the period, sending this one to the second break with the Huskies firmly in control with that 3-0 edge in goals and a whopping 25-11 advantage in shots.

Whatever happened during the intermission, the Cougars decided that they weren't content with the results of the first 40 minutes. A turnover at the Saskatchewan blueline off the opening face-off allowed Trinity Grove to skate in and get a backhander away that was kicked out by Drever, but the rebound found the stick of Jordan Kulbida and Kulbida found the back of the net just eight seconds into the frame to cut the lead to 3-1! 49 seconds later, a centering pass from Ireland Sorestad went up in the air over Drever, and Ireland Sorestad bunted it out of the air into the net to make it a 3-2 game! All of sudden, this game got very interesting very quickly!

However, the Huskies began their methodical play once more, grinding in the defensive zone and preventing good looks at Drever for the Cougars. Time became the concern for the Cougars as they hunted for the equalizer, and it was not to be on this night as the Huskies held on for the 3-2 victory over their provincial rivals! Camyrn Drever made 18 stops to secure her second win of the year while Arden Kliewer stopped 29 shots in the loss.

After having an entire extra week to prepare for making a highlight package, you'd think the Huskies would have used that time constructively, right? You're free to listen to the periods from this game over on the HuskieFan site, but a concise highlight package seems like a better use of your time. At least I think it would be, but I don't have the power to make that happen.

The top-two teams in Canada West after one week of play met in Vancouver as the undefeated Bisons met the undefeated Thunderbirds. Manitoba's wins over Calgary involved some big scores as they needed to flex a little offensive muscle while UBC beat up on Trinity Western in their first games. Who would hold the season series tie-breaker after this weekend? Erin Fargey started for the Bisons against Reese Hiddleston for the Thunderbirds in the goaltending matchup!

The first period saw these two teams, who hadn't played one another since January 18, 2020, reintroduce one another to each other. There were chances in the opening frame as UBC used the home-ice advantage to outsoot the Bisons 11-5 in the period as th aggressors, but, with no goals, we'd jump to the second period with the teams tied at 0-0.

Samantha Sichkaruk got the party rolling as she found the loose puck in front of the net off a bit of a goalmouth scramble, and put it behind Hiddleston just 45 seconds into the frame for the 1-0 Bisons lead! The Bisons would double their lead eight minutes later when Halle Edwards' shot from the wing bounced off a player in front and into the back of the UBC net at 8:47, and the Bisons held a 2-0 lead! The Bisons, though, would suffer thanks to their power-play once more as Kenzie Robinson beat two Bisons to a loose puck on the left-wing boards at center, skated by a third Bisons defender, took it to the backhand as she broke in alone, and beat Fargey on the glove side for the shorthanded marker with 23 seconds left in the frame. That goal cut the Bisons' lead to 2-1 as we moved to the third period.

The third period saw UBC notch the equalizer early as Kennesha Miswaggon's shot was stopped by Fargey, but the puck laid loose in the crease only to be swept home by Jenna Fletcher at 3:24 for the 2-2 tie! Everything got a little more tense until the Bisons were awarded a penalty shot at 7:17 as Halle Edwards used the free breakaway to go to the backhand and slide the puck under Hiddleston's left pad for the 3-2 lead! From there, the Bisons did everything they could to prevent the Thunderbirds from scoring again, and the horn would allow them to escape the night with the 3-2 victory over UBC! Erin Fargey recorded her second win with a 29-save performance while Reese Hiddleston suffered the loss in a 17-save effort.

This will now be Week #2 where UBC has decided that highlights are not their problem. Someone needs to speak with UBC about this because they skipped out on the Trinity Western game last week, and now there are none for Friday's game. I'm not sure what the problem is, UBC, but let's get the sports department rolling on producing a highlight reel just to see if they can at this point.

SATURDAY: After suffering their first loss one night earlier, it was expected that the UBC Thunderbirds were going to come out in this game and do whatever was necessary to win if past performances were any trend. Manitoba would need to play more aggressively with speed and shots-on-net if they wanted to make this weekend a four-point weekend. Erin Fargey earned her third-straight start for the Bisons while Elise Hugens was looking to avenge the loss for the T-Birds from the previous night.

To say that the T-Birds were the aggressive team in the first period might be underselling how good they looked combined with how flat Manitoba seemed. UBC would use that advantage to score early as Grace Elliott found herself all alone in the slot, and she wired home a shot at 5:39 for her first Canada West goal and the all-important 1-0 lead. UBC would double that lead when Kennesha Miswaggon popped home a rebound at 9:15, and they'd make it a three-goal lead as Joelle Fiala got a step on the Bisons defenders on the right, cut to the net, and slid the puck by Fargey on the power-play at 14:28 for her first Canada West goal. At the end of the period, UBC was up 3-0 and had a 19-4 advantage in shots.

The second period was still a bit of a feeding frenzy in the Manitoba zone, but the Bisons would use a power-play to cut into the lead. Camryn Gillis teed up a puck off a face-off win, and the Bisons were on the board at 3-1 at the 10:31 mark. However, Chanreet Bassi would make the Bisons pay for another rebound as she scored off a saved puck that wasn't covered at 13:19, and Sophie Gaskell would score her first Canada West goal 1:07 later when she fired a shot off both posts before it settled in the Manitoba net as UBC took a 5-1 lead into the break.

The third period saw UBC really control the game as they showed how dangerous they can be in locking down the 5-1 victory over the Bisons. Elise Hugens picked up the second win of her career with a 12-save night while Erin Fargey suffers her first loss despite stopping 30 shots in this game.

This is the third time in three games there are no highlight packages from UBC. It's starting to get ridiculous. I'm not sure what recourse Canada West has for this type of behaviour, but it's time to use whatever means they have to force UBC to do their jobs.
CANADA WEST WOMEN'S HOCKEY
School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
Mount Royal
2-0-1-1
7 17 5
W3
@ CAL
UBC
3-1-0-0
6 18 5
W1
@ MAC
Manitoba
3-1-0-0
6 15 13
L1
@ SAS
Saskatchewan
2-0-0-0
4 6 4
W2
vs MAN
Calgary
2-2-0-0
4 12 13
W2
vs MRU
Alberta
0-0-1-1
3 4 4
L1
@REG
MacEwan
1-3-0-0
2 5 9
L2
vs UBC
Regina
1-3-0-0
2 7 9
L3
vs ALB
Trinity Western
0-4-0-0
0 2 24
L4
BYE

Math Problems

If you are keeping track at home, the numbers above have changed somewhat in terms of the math. Canada West passed a rule this summer that women's hockey would go back to a two-point system for all games, meaning that regulation wins and extra-time wins are both now worth two points rather than three and two points, respectively. The standings above reflect that change.

Last week's standings had not been updated to reflect the new math because Canada West hadn't changed the math on their sites at that point, so you may look back at last week's standings in The Rundown and wonder what happened. That's the explanation - Canada West was a day late and a dollar short once again, but they finally got their standings in order.

For tie-breaking purposes, I will break up the extra-time wins because it's easier to read when trying to determine who is ahead of whom when it comes to the tie-breaker rules. With teams only playing each other twice in some cases, these tie-breakers may come in handy after the dust settles.

Special Programming

If you're a fan of the Manitoba Bisons, there will be a special broadcast next weekend as I'm making the road trip to Saskatoon! I'll set up shop in Merlis Belsher Arena and call the games for the Bisons on a special internet stream that can be found at this link and on the Bisons' website.

I'm expecting a fun weekend as there will be a book signing at the rink and the Huskies are honouring some of their legends! The 2013-14 Canada West champion and CIS bronze medallist Huskies team will be honoured for their efforts in winning all those accolades, and Maureen Ulrich, mother of Huskies legend Robin Ulrich, will be on-hand to sign copies of her new book! The new book incorporates the Huskies into the story, so it's going to be awesome to see Maureen signing copies of her book about the Huskies at the Huskies game!

Of course, there are four points on the line between the undefeated Huskies and the Bisons, so I'll call all that action next week while having a blast out in Saskatoon. I hope you'll join me for the very first regular season road game called by a UMFM broadcaster!

The Last Word

With Trinity Western going into a bye week after being carved up by two of Canada West's most explosive offences, one has to wonder how they stop the bleeding. Twice in two weekends, they've given up eight goals in a game. Twice in two weekends, they've scored a single goal while being shutout in one of the two games. Twice in two weekends, they've shown some life before the floor falls out from under them.

We knew it was going to be tough sledding for the Spartans based on how young their roster was this season, but I don't know if anyone was ready for the shellacking they're taking in games so far. It won't get any easier with Saskatchewan on other side of the bye week, and then the team moves into the conference bye. With two games over the next three weeks, there will be a lot of time for practice and video sessions which should hopefully sort things out a little.

It doesn't help that the Spartans are the most penalized team in the conference with a penalty-killing success rate of just 65.2% (8 PPGA on 23 shorthanded moments). They need to stay out of the box to give themselves a fighting chance to compete. They've only surrendered 16 goals in all other times, so reducing the penalties would be one thing I'd be looking to improve.

The other side of the coin is finding success on the power-play, and TWU hasn't seen any success there yet. They're oh-fer-12 with the extra player on the ice, and that kind of efficiency will sink a team pretty quickly. It's not going to solve all of their scoring woes, but converting with the advantage is going to take pressure off their five-on-five scoring.

There's hope that TWU can perhaps find their game in time for their weekend in Regina on November 19 and 20 as the Cougars are one of the teams that the Spartans will be competing with for the last playoff spot in Canada West. They have MacEwan the following weekend, and those two weekends of games could either help them immensely as they aim for a playoff spot or completely wipe out any hope of the playoffs altogether.

Whatever the case may be, Trinity Western needs to take advantage of the advantages they're given while preventing the opposition from gaining any advantage while the Spartans watch from the penalty box. Special teams matter in Canada West as much as goaltending and experience, and using the breaks one is given can really lift a team in this conference. If I'm Trinity Western, I'm working on special teams during this bye week because they have to find some positive on which they can build if they hope to take points off both Regina and MacEwan before the calendar flips to December.

No one wants to see Trinity Western get blown out every week, but no one will let up when they meet the Spartans either. Canada West is an ultra-competitive conference, so it'll be on the Spartans to find a way to compete throughout this season and beyond.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!