Tuesday, 30 November 2021

The Timing Is Brutal

With the emergence of the Omicron variant in the battle against COVID-19 across the world, one had to figure that a few events would be affected at some point. In saying this, it was announced on Monday that FISU was cancelling the 2021 Lucerne Universiade after Switzerland implemented new travel restrictions that would prevent people from certain countries from flying into the European nation after the new variant strain of the virus had already been detected in the country. I can't fault the government for taking swift action in protecting its citizens in terms of public health measures, but this is absolutely devastating for the athletes who were set to arrive in two weeks. As it stands, this edition of the Universiade will not be played with 2023's Universiade Games in Lake Placid, New York already on the horizon.

"In the face of travel restrictions being imposed in Switzerland and all around the world, we have had no other choice but to cancel the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade. This decision was made with a very heavy heart. So many of my fellow Swiss university sports colleagues had already given so much, for so long to this event. But the new travel restrictions mean that staging the event has now ben made impossible," FISU Acting President Leonz Eder said in a statement.

"On behalf of FISU, I would like to offer our solidarity and sincere gratitude to the organising committee of Lucerne 2021 and all the partners who have been working so hard to provide a magical Alpine moment. FISU is also deeply saddened for the delegations from National University Sports Federations from all around the world who had been looking forward to Lucerne 2021."

That sound you hear is a long, audible sigh of disappointment.

We're two weeks from the event that was supposed to take place in Lucerne, Switzerland. This is the second time the Games will be taken from the Swiss city after the original dates for the Games, January 21-31, were cancelled due to the Swiss government locking down their country following a previous pandemic outbreak. Because of the changes in policies for those athletes flying into Switzerland, there isn't enough time for the teams and officials to adjust their schedules to adhere to the Swiss policy of a ten-day quarantine, rendering those people ineligible to participate in their events.

With Lake Placid one year away as it's set for January 2023, the decision to push the competition dates back again was not what the FISU organizers wanted to do, so they've officially cancelled the 30th Universiade Games for good.

My heart goes out to all the athletes who were getting set to compete from countries around the world. Let's not forget that Estonia was sending a men's hockey team for the first time to the Universiade Games and their first game was to be against Canada on December 10. While this gives Estonia an extra 14 months to prepare for their men's hockey debut, it also means that an entire class of players who would have been the first to represent Estonia on the international stage lose that honour through no fault of their own.

It's been a while since I uttered these words out loud, but we're not out of the woods yet. There are still pockets of people who choose to remain unvaccinated despite the benefits of doing so greatly outweighing any perceived negatives, and we're seeing variants like the Omicron variant popping up because the virus is adapting and evolving right before our very eyes thanks to those pockets of people who offer the least resistance. As we see more and more players in the NHL, AHL, and CHL affected by the virus as well, now is not the time for complacency, but, rather, renewed vigor in our fight against COVID-19. Use your head, and please get vaccinated or get the booster if you're already vaccinated.

There are a pile of Canadian university athletes set to make their way over to Lucerne, and I'm absolutely crushed for each and every one of these people who were going to compete for the maple leaf rather than just their schools. For those athletes who are in their fourth or fifth year of eligibility, this opportunity won't be available ever again, and it's that realization that makes me sad for these athletes. They were literally within two weeks of the biggest sporting opportunity of their careers, and now it's gone.

Being that this is a hockey blog, I am hopeful that Hockey Canada does the right thing and sends all of the players that were named for the men's and women's hockey teams the jerseys they would have worn had they landed in Lucerne. They deserve to be honoured as they were set to make Canada proud, so let's make this right by getting them their jerseys. For a few thousand dollars in jersey costs, Hockey Canada, you can create a ton of goodwill towards the program with this gesture.

Hockey players, if you do receive your jersey, please send in photos of you in it! I want to feature you on HBIC if Hockey Canada does the right thing here! You may not get to compete for the country at the Universiade Games, but we can still be proud that you were selected as one of Canada's best players playing at the university level! All photos can be sent here, and I'll get them up on HBIC ASAP!

It will be a much quieter December here on HBIC as there won't be daily updates from the 30th Universiade Games to report, and just writing that sentence has me pretty glum for this holiday season.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 29 November 2021

EBUG Moment!

Rob Mattison, seen to the left in 2011, isn't a household name by any means. Rob's originally from Anchorage, Alaska, but he now calls Tulsa, Oklahoma home after having spent some time in the state attending the University of Oklahoma and tending a little net for the Tulsa Oilers. It's this last stop in his winding hockey career, though, that we'll focus on today because 38 year-old Rob Mattison might have recorded his most memorable win despite him recording no saves of any kind during his latest appearance.

Rob is currently the Tulsa Oilers' EBUG - Emergency Back-Up Goaltender - and his inclusion in last night's game against the Utah Grizzlies seems to be a case of random coincidences coming together at the right time. On Friday, the Anaheim Ducks re-assigned Tulsa netminder Roman Durny to the AHL's San Diego Gulls after they had a goalie suffer an injury. That left the Oilers in a bind as they needed a goalie for the weekend's games, so they went out and quickly signed Jake Ramsey to be an EBUG against Wichita on Friday. He didn't get into the game, but it appears that Mason McDonald, a Calgary Flames 2014 second-round pick, was dressed as the back-up on Friday in Wichita.

I'm not sure what happened between Friday night and Saturday night when the Utah Grizzlies came to Tulsa to play the Oilers, but Mason McDonald was not in the lineup for the Oilers. Instead, Jake Ramsey, the EBUG signed on Friday, made his first in-uniform appearance in front of the home crowd wearing #62. Daniel Mannella wouldn't need any relief on this night despite the fact that Tulsa lost 3-1 to the Grizzlies, so Ramsey watched from the bench for the whole game as he wasn't needed. Again, I don't know what happened to McDonald, but we do know that the two goalies dressed for Tulsa included an EBUG.

Again, I don't know what happened between Saturday night and Sunday night, but it appears Jake Ramsey was replaced by Rob Mattison as the Tulsa Oilers' EBUG as the ECHL transactions show Mattison signed by the club on Sunday. As we know, EBUG contracts are paid-when-played, so perhaps Jake Ramsey had other commitments where he was needed, forcing the Oilers to sign one of their former teammates from their CHL days back in 2011-12 and one of the team's EBUGs from last season.

And this is where our story veers into the category of "awesome" because Rob Mattison, wearing #37, was on the bench for the Oilers on Sunday night as the Grizzlies and Oilers resumed their battle. With Tulsa leading 5-3 late in the game, it appeared that everything was wrapping up nicely until Dylan Sadowy was whistled for a high-sticking double-minor at 17:15. Utah's Luke Martin would score at 17:43 to make it 5-4, and Utah would then tie the game with 25 seconds to play when Brandon Cutler beat Mannella for another power-play goal. Whatever happened on that final goal isn't clear, but Daniel Mannella, Tulsa's starting goalie, was hurt on the ice. When it was clear he couldn't continue, Rob Mattison grabbed his blocker and glove and headed out to the blue paint!

He played the final 25 seconds of the third period without facing any shots, but there was still an overtime period looming. No pressure or anything, right?

Before the water laid down for the new ice surface could freeze for the overtime period, this game was over. Tulsa's Eddie Matsushima roofed a backhander past Utah's Garrett Metcalf just 41 seconds into overtime, and Tulsa escaped with the 6-5 overtime victory! And since Rob Mattison was in net for the 41 seconds of overtime, Rob Mattison earned his first ECHL victory!

Check out this stats line for Mattison: 66 seconds played, zero shots faced, one win. His goals-against-average will remain at 0.00 since he officially registered time in net, but his save percentage will show as "undefined" since he faced no shots. How weird is that stats line? And how cool is it that an EBUG was able to record a win this season? That's beyond awesome, so congrats to Rob Mattison on picking up that first-ever ECHL win in his career at age 38!

What makes this a cool story as we pull back a few layers is the fact that Rob Mattison played one season in Winnipeg, Manitoba at the MJHL level with the Winnipeg Saints! He played just 11 games with the Saints in 2002-03 before the Saints sent him to the AWHL, the American West Hockey League, an American Tier III Junior ice hockey league which merged into the NA3HL back in 2014. His stats, according to EliteProspects.com, weren't all that impressive at the time, but we can add an ECHL win to his list of accomplishments now as Rob Mattison has a pro hockey win to his name!

Tulsa doesn't play again until Thursday, so we'll see where this story goes over the next few days. As Tulsa head coach Rob Murray said last night, "I have never seen an emergency backup goalie get the win without facing a shot," and I can honestly say he's likely right. I don't recall any other game where an EBUG has participated, earned a win, and not made a single save or faced a single shot in the game he played. Rob Mattison is likely the first guy to do that at the age of 38 after last playing a meaningful hockey in 2010-11 for the Troy Bruins in Ohio.

Sometimes, this game makes you smile for the right reasons, and Rob Mattison's story deserves the smiles today. Congratulations, Rob, on your first ECHL win!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

***Stick-tap to Dave W. for the heads-up on this story!***

Sunday, 28 November 2021

The Rundown - Week 7

For three teams, it's the last week of the first half of the schedule. For six teams, it's business as usual as Canada West women's hockey was back in action this weekend. With Mount Royal sitting this one out as they enjoyed a bye week, teams had a chance to make up ground on them as well as each other. As we near exam and holiday season, let's finish off the schedule for Manitoba, Calgary, and Regina while checking out what the other five teams did as they get set for next week on The Rundown!

FRIDAY: We'll start in Saskatoon where the UBC Thunderbirds rolled into town for a two-game set against the Huskies. These two teams began the weekend tied for third-place in the conference with 12 points apiece, so there was a chance for one team to set themselves up nicely with a possible four points at stake. Two of those four points were up for grabs on Friday night as Elise Hugens got the start in net for the T-Birds while Camryn Drever was between the pipes for the Huskies!

The first period saw these two teams get reacquainted with one another as a fairly even period was played. Saskatchewan took a couple of minor penalties to UBC's lone infraction, but none of the advantages resulted in goals on the scoreboard. Through the first 20 minutes, we'd find ourselves locked at 0-0 with the Huskies leading 10-9 in shots.

Things changed in the second period in a big way. Sophia Gaskell found the back of the net for her third goal of the season just 81 seconds in the frame. Isabella Pozzi scored her first Canada West goal with a blast from the point at 6:32 to make it 1-1. Kennedy Brown made the T-Birds pay for taking penalties as she notched her third goal of the season on a 5-on-3 advantage as her deflection found room past Hugens to make it 2-1 for the Huskies at 12:29. Mackenzie Kordic would respond for the Thunderbirds on a power-play of their own when her shot found room past Drever for her third goal to even the game at 2-2 at 14:35, but a Jordyn Holmes goal from a bad angle on the goal line found room through Hugens on the stick side at 16:29, and the Huskies would go into the break with that 3-2 lead.

The third period would see Saskatchewan double their lead on the power-play when Abby Shirley scored her fourth goal of the season on the power-play at 5:54 as they went up 4-2. From there, it was standard Saskatchewan hockey as they locked down the defensive zone and kept UBC's chances to a minimum. The clock would tick down to zeroes, and the result at that time would see the Huskies prevail over the Thunderbirds by that 4-2 score! Camryn Drever picked up her fifth win of the season in stopping 29 shots while Elise Hugens suffered her first loss at the Canada West level despite making 27 saves.

Highlights? The Huskies played at home, and they didn't even post Twitter highlights this week. I get Huskies football is doing something special, but there were at least half a dozen other sports happening at the University of Saskatchewan this weekend. Zero highlights.

SATURDAY: The Huskies' win on Friday meant that they sat two points ahead of UBC in the standings as dawn broke on Saturday. Another win by Saskatchewan would put UBC in some trouble in their quest for a playoff bye, and we already know that UBC was looking for a win to even things up with the Huskies once again. Just as they were on Friday, Elise Hugens was in UBC's crease while Camryn Drever took her spot in the Saskatchewan net.

UBC came out of the gates flying, but Sakatchewan matched them in their intensity. A penalty midway through the period was the catalyst UBC needed to find the scoreboard, and Ashley McFadden converted on the power-play for her third goal of the season to put UBC up 1-0 at the 9:28 mark. Hannah Koroll would add a late goal at 19:12 for her second of the season to move UBC to a 2-0, and we'd go into the intermission with UBC holding the two-goal lead.

The second period saw UBC take control thanks in part to two power-play opportunities that they earned, but they were excellent in their own zone in preventing shots and clearing the ones that made it through to Hugens. When there were rebounds, most were smothered quickly by the UBC netminder, but the 15-6 edge in shots in this frame in favour of UBC showed the ice tilted in one direction. We'd head to the third period with that 2-0 lead holidng, though, as UBC couldn't add to their lead.

The third period was a close-out period for UBC as they shifted to a defensive mode for most of the frame. Even with a couple of power-plays, the Huskies couldn't solve Hugens on this night as UBC earned the 2-0 win over the Huskies! Elise Hugens was excellent in picking up her sixth win and fourth shutout with a 24-save night while Camryn Drever was on the losing end of a 31-save effort.

Highlights of this game are done by imagination only this weekend.

FRIDAY: The Alberta Pandas headed east to Winnipeg for a date with the Manitoba Bisons as these two long-time rivals looked to add a new chapter to their storied battles. Alberta, sitting in fifth-place, needed some points as they were in unfamiliar territory this late in the season. Manitoba was looking to overtake the idle Mount Royal Cougars with a couple of wins this weekend. Friday's game would see Halle Oswald starting for the Pandas while the Bisons opted for Erin Fargey to start for them.

It felt like a normal Alberta-Manitoba game as this one got underway with Alberta forechecking like demons while Manitoba tried to solve the forecheck. This would continue throughout the first period until the unexpected happened. With a delayed penalty call in effect, Manitoba opted for the extra attacker. As they set up with six players on the ice, an errant pass back to the defence went to no one and ended up in the vacant net as Alberta took a 1-0 lead as Payton Laumbach was credited with the goal. That was the only score, and the "own goal" by the Bisons had them down by one heading to the second period.

The second period saw the tide turn somewhat as the Bisons appeared to have used the intermission to overcome the forecheck of the Pandas, putting them back on their heels slightly. Drawing a penalty just before the seven-minute mark, the Bisons went to work as Halle Edwards found a puck in tight on Oswald and slipped it past Oswald's outstretched leg on the backhand! Edwards' fifth goal of the season tied the game at 1-1 at 7:16 as the chess match between these two teams would resume. Alberta had a couple of power-plays that resulted in no additional goals, and we'd move to the third period with the game knotted up at 1-1.

The third period saw the Bisons really apply some solid pressure from the opening face-off. They would be rewarded for the effort at the seven-minute mark when Vanessa Klimpke picked the pocket of an Alberta defender. Her shooting lane disappeared as an Alberta defende got in the way, but she slipped the puck to Molly Kunnas who ripped a shot past Oswald! Kunnas' third goal of the season at 7:05 put the Bisons ahead 2-1! Alberta would turn up the heat in the dying minutes of the game, but Erin Fargey made a couple of key saves as the Bisons stood tall in preventing any additional damage. At the final horn, the Bisons had defeated the Pandas by a 2-1 score! Erin Fargey earned her fifth win of the season in a game where she stopped all 17 shots she faced, but wasn't credited with a shutout thanks to that own goal. Halle Oswald suffered the loss despite making 25 saves.

The only highlights I could rip from social media were of the Bisons' goals. Sorry, Pandas fans, as I don't have video of the own goal credited to Laumbach.

SATURDAY: Manitoba entered Saturday knowing the game would be the last one of 2021, so there was hope they'd finish the first half of the season strong. Alberta needed to find the win column again if they wanted a shot at making a run in the second half of the season. Kirsten Chamberlin was sent to the Alberta crease while Kimmy Davidson got the call for the Bisons!

There was a little "deja vu" as this game got underway as the Pandas once again applied a fierce forecheck that seemed to hem the Bisons in their own zone for periods of time. There wouldn't be any own goals, thankfully, but the Bisons were outplayed in the opening frame for the second-straight night as the Pandas closed the period with a 12-5 advantage in shots.

The second period felt like more of the same as the Bisons appeared confused by the same system that Alberta had used one night earlier. Two Alberta penalties made the shots more even, but Alberta's last shot of the period was the one that counted. Jadynn Morden made a great move to get around a defender, and she roofed a shot inside the far post 1at 19:59 for her second goal of the season to send the teams to the dressing rooms with Alberta leading 1-0 on the scoreboard and 21-12 in shots!

There was no change to how both teams played in the third period as Alberta was clearly the better team on this day. They'd add a little insurance when Payton Laumbach fired home a rebound into a yawning cage for her fourth goal of the season at 9:29, and the Pandas were up a pair of goals. They shifted into a more defensive scheme which only made it harder for the Bisons to score, and the final horn would sound on a solid 60-minute effort from the Pandas as they downed the Bisons 2-0! Kirsten Chamberlin made 17 stops for her second win and first shutout of the season while Kimmy Davidson stoped 26 shots in her first loss of her career.

Apparently, the Bisons aren't making highlight reels for the Pandas since there was nothing to show off from a Manitoba standpoint in this game. Sorry, Pandas fans.

FRIDAY: Regina headed west to Calgary where the Dinos were hosting the Cougars for this weekend's games. The Cougars were looking to separate themselves from the Dinos who sat two points back of Regina while the Dinos were looking to get a win streak going so they could climb into the playoff picture. Arden Kliewer was in the Regina net for this game while Gabriella Durante started for the Dinos!

Regina looked like the more aggressive team in th first period as they certainly got more pucks to the net, but Durante was strong in her net as she denied a handful of shots early. A penalty just past the midway point was the break that Regina needed, though, as Paige Hubbard corraled a loose puck at the side of the Calgary net during a scramble, and she chipped it over Durante into the net for her second goal of the season as the power-play marker put Regina up 1-0 at 12:23! There was just goal seen in the opening period, though, as Regina went into the break leading 1-0 and up 17-9 in shots!

The Dinos flipped the script in the second period as they got more pucks on Kliewer through some more aggressive play, but the Regina netminder was equal to the task. A couple of power-plays for the Cougars resulted in nothing being added to the score for them, so we'd move to the third period with Regina holding a 21-17 edge in shots, but still clinging to the 1-0 lead.

Calgary continued their assault on the Regina net in the third period as they looked for the equalizer, but all they found was a wall named Arden Kliewer. Kliewer denied all chances once again in this period, and the final horn was the curtain call on a magnificent performance as the Regina Cougars downed the Calgary Dinos by that 1-0 score! Arden Kliewer was perfect on 27 shots she faced for her third win of the season and first Canada West shutout in her career while Gabriella Durante likely deserved a better fate than a loss after stopping 27 shots at her end of the ice.

Highlights? Calgary's doing it right! Well done, Dinos!

SATURDAY: With the victory one night earlier, the Regina Cougars were moving in the right direction when it comes to solidifying a playoff spot in the second half. Calgary, despite showing some solid offensive play on Friday, just couldn't solve the Regina goaltender. Both teams were looking for wins as Arden Kliewer was back in the net for the Cougars while Gabriella Durante got the start for the Dinos in a rematch from one night earlier!

We've seen a few players flirt with hat tricks over the course of a game this season, but Elizabeth Lang decided to put this game on her shoulders in the first period. Lang scored at 2:53, 8:17, and on the power-play at 8:48 to start this game off with a natural hat trick as she scored her fourth through sixth goals of the season in that 5:55 span of time! Kliewer got a piece of her first, but not enough as it trickled across the line. Her second goal was a rebound off an Alli Borrow shot while the third was also a rebound off a Rachel Paul shot. Needless to say, Elizabeth Lang had a 3-0 lead over the Cougars at that point. Adela Juzkova would get one of the Lang goals back when she scored her first of the season at 11:13, but the damage had been done by Lang in the opening period as Calgary took the 3-1 lead into the break.

The second period saw things settle down as both teams began to play more defensively sound. There were still chances, but the goaltending and defences were up to the challenge if limiting those opportunities. In a period where shots were 9-9, there were no goals scored, so we'd hop to the third period with Calgary still leading 3-1.

Alli Borrow would dent the twine behind Kliewer on a great individual effort just 1:36 into the period for her fifth goal, and Calgary was content to sit on the three-goal lead as they went into a defensive shell for the remaining 18 minutes. Regina's six shots weren't good enough to beat Durante, and the final horn sounded on Calgary's 4-1 win over the Regina Cougars! Gabriella Durante made 31 stops for her fourth win of the season while Arden Kliewer took the loss on a night where she stopped 31 shots as well.

Highlights of this game are below!

The first-ever regular season meeting between the two "expansion" teams in Canada West went down in Langley, British Columbia this weekend as the MacEwan Griffins headed for the west coast to meet the Trinity Western Spartans. With both teams currently out of playoff spots, there was one goal this weekend for both teams: points. Natalie Bender was in the Griffins' crease while Mabel Maltais got the nod for the Spartans.

MacEwan started the game off as the aggressors, forcing TWU into an early penalty, but nothing would come of that chance. However, the Griffins would find the scoreboard when Kyrelle Skoye's point shot was tipped in front by Rylee Gluska past Maltais for her second goal of the season at 6:56, and MacEwan was up 1-0 before the game was seven minutes old. Trinity Western was whistled for two more penalties in the first and never really got their momentum going, so we'd head to the second period with MacEwan up 1-0 and leading 13-3 in shots.

It appeared that the Spartans tied the game early in the middle frame on the power-play when Neisha Germann's shot beat Bender, but went off both posts rather than finding twine. That momentum built by the Spartans off that chance held the Griffins at bay, but it would only last for so long. Mackenzie Dachuk's wraparound goal at 18:41 was her first Canada West goal of her career, and it took the wind out of the Spartans' sails as the Griffins jumped to a 2-0 lead. The teams would head into the intermission with the Griffins up a pair of goals.

The third period saw the Griffins shift into a more defensive effort as they worked to limit chances for the Spartans. Trinity Western would outshoot the MacEwan in the period, but nothing got by Bender as she backstopped the MacEwan Griffins to the 2-0 win over the Trinity Western Spartans! Natalie Bender stopped all 19 shots she faced in the game for her third win and first Canada West shutout this season, but she also recorded her 12th regular-season shutout in a Griffins uniform to break the record she school shared with Sandy Heim! Mabel Maltais suffered the loss despite making 28 stops.

Highlights are weird thing, it seems. The Trinty Western Spartans posted higlights of the men's team despite them playing in Edmonton, yet they have nothing to show for women's hockey highlights. In fact, the last women's hockey highlights came from three weeks ago. What gives, TWU? Why does every other sport have a highlight package, including teams who played on the road, yet women's hockey doesn't?

SATURDAY: Points were still needed by both teams on this weekend, and MacEwan was halfway there with their win one night earlier. That put added pressure on Trinity Western on Saturday as they needed to keep pace with everyone in the conference! Brianna Sank was in the MacEwan net for this game while Jadeyn Kastning was between the pipes for the Spartans!

The second game of the set felt far more defensively-minded as this one got underway despite the fact that Trinity Western was shorthanded just 17 seconds into the game. That being said, they killed off that penalty, but the second penalty in the frame cost them. Mila Verbicky found a loose puck in a goalmouth scramble, and she popped it past Kastning for her first of the season at 8:50, and, more importantly, her first goal as a Griffin after transferring in from Lethbridge! Another penalty was killed by the Spartans in the period, but there would be no further goals as MacEwan held the 1-0 lead and a 9-6 edge in shots!

The parade to the penalty box continued in the second period as TWU was whistled 86 seconds in before MacEwan was handed two penalties followed by coincidental minors midway through the frame. Needless to say, there wasn't a lot of offensive momentum built either way as the chess game continued on the ice. By the time the horn sounded, MacEwan's one-goal lead still held strong while the Griffins led in shots 17-11.

The third period had the home team in the sin bin once again, but they pressed the Griffins throughout the period as they looked for the equalizer. It wasn't to be on this night, though, as Sank was just as solid in the third period as she was in the first period. When the horn sounded, the MacEwan Griffins skated away with the 1-0 win over the Trinity Western Spartans! Brianna Sank earned her second win of the season and first shutout of her Canada West career with a 21-save night while Jadeyn Kastning deserved a better fate after stopping 20 shots.

It would be nice to show the efforts of both teams, but we already know Trinity Western is running some sort of women's hockey highlight strike. Get it together, TWU.
School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
Mount Royal
16 35 15
vs SAS
16 30 26
14 36 13
vs TWU
14 23 13
11 18 21
vs MAC
10 15 22
10 22 29
8 26 40
Trinity Western
4 8 34

The Last Word

Three teams get bye weeks next week as Regina, Calgary, and Manitoba are done for the first half of the season. With Alberta and MacEwan playing one another, there's a chance that one or both teams could open a chasm that both Calgary and Regina may not be able to close in the second half. Of course, if one team wins both of those games, the battle for the final playoff spot could be a three-horse race down the stretch this season.

Saskatchewan going into Mount Royal will be a good test for the Huskies as they look to bounce back from a split with UBC. Mount Royal is coming off a bye, so we'll see how that plays out since teams are a combined 7-1 on the weekend after the bye. If the Huskies can take a game or two off Mount Royal, perhaps we'll see the fourth different Canada West team on the farcical U SPORTS Top Ten rankings.

UBC will get a chance to renew their interprovincial rivalry against Trinity Western team that is better defensively, but is still struggling with an offence that seems destined to play for a 0-0 result through 60 minutes. UBC had a chance to leap idle Manitoba into sole possession of second-place if they can earn three or more points, so UBC will be hunting for wins. TWU, of course, needs to win just to get back into the conversation for the playoffs. Two more losses might be the beginning of the end of the playoff dream in Season One of the TWU story.

There's one week left in the first half of the season, and there are all sorts of storylines currently be written. We'll add another chapter to those stories next week right here on The Rundown!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 27 November 2021

A Legacy Of Stripes

Being a hockey official is often described as a thankless job. When officials make calls, they're criticized by the offending team for what they feel was hardly an indiscretion, let alone a minor penalty. When they let teams play, they're criticized for allowing too many infractions to go uncalled by both benches. No matter what officials do, they're often the target for a player's or a team's ire despite them ensuring that the game is played without a fullscale riot breaking out. One of those long-time officials was the late Mick McGeough, seen above, and there's now another McGeough carrying on his legacy.

For those that aren't aware, longtime NHL official Mick McGeough passed away on November 23, 2018. Mick worked 1083 regular-season games from 1987-2008 before retiring at the end of the 2008 season. He also refereed 63 Stanley Cup Playoff games, and was one of the last officials to step on the ice without a helmet after being allowed to continue without a bucket when the NHL instituted the rule for officials. McGeough was certainly one of the officials everyone "loved to hate", but he was an exceptional official at all levels of the game where he worked.

One expects a parent's job may influence his or her child's choices for jobs as well, and Mick McGeough's officiating presence rubbed off on his son, Luke, who is working his way through the officiating ranks in Saskatchewan. It's clear that Luke also knows of his dad's influence on the game in Saskatchewan and around the world because Luke does something that not many people are able to do to honour their parents: he wears his uniform to work in memory of his dad!
Luke worked the Yorkton Terriers game Friday evening where he donned his dad's old referee sweater, and he went to work in calling the game between the visiting La Ronge Ice Wolves and the Terriers. Luke and his referee partner, Jeff Bahrey, were busy last night as they called 14 infractions for 50 PIMs combined in the 6-2 Yorkton victory!

Luke McGeough has worn his dad's referee sweater every year on or around the same day his dad passed away in honour of his memory, and I'm proud that Luke is following his own officiating dreams thanks to his dad. He wore his dad's sweater in 2020 for a game between the Estevan Bruins and the Weyburn Red Wings, and wore it for the first time in 2019 during a Midget AAA game in Regina to honour his dad.

Luke's memory of his dad in 2018 after his passing shows what a great guy Mick was when it came to "looking out for his teammates".

"I just hope he'd be proud of me," Luke told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader Post in December 2018, a few weeks after his dad passed away. "My wife was like, 'He'll be proud of the way you reffed either way.' I said, 'That wasn’t really Mick's thing.' He was a ref but he'd be way more proud of me being a good dad — he just loved the grandkids — and a good husband and a good person in general.

"Mick could care less if I was an awful official as long as I'm doing right by everyone else."

It honestly sounds like Mick McGeough brought up Luke and his siblings the right way if doing right by other people was more important than the work he does while wearing the stripes. Life is bigger than one 60-minute block of time where hockey is played, and I feel confident in saying that Mick's priorities were in the right order when it comes to his kids learning to be good people. Those are life lessons that will be used daily, and it seems like Luke has already made them part of his life.

"It's kind of special putting it on right, knowing that dad wore it, get a little sense of pride putting it on," Luke told CTV News in 2020. "I'm pretty proud of all his accomplishments."

I think Mick would be pretty proud of Luke's efforts to be a great person because honouring his dad in this way and sharing it with the teams and players with whom Mick McGeough would have had contact is a pretty special thing to do on behalf of his dad and the memory of his dad's legacy in Saskatchewan hockey. That speaks volumes about the lessons he passed on to his kids about doing right by everyone else, and I'd say Luke's on his way to being a great role model for his own kids.

Your dad was a legend, Luke, and you're writing your own legend now! Keep up the great work both on the ice in your own career, and off the ice in being a great husband, father, and person while bringing the hockey community together through the memory of your dad!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 26 November 2021

Meeting To Plan Meetings

It was decision day at the IIHF offices in Switzerland as they were reviewing China's men's hockey entry for the upcoming 2022 Beijing Olympics. Norway, who are set to be China's replacement if the IIHF deems China's entry to be less than ideal competitively, await the decision that was to be handed down today. Several teams - Canada being one of them - wait in the balance to see if their pool's teams remain the same or change. Needless to say, there was a big decision happening today for the IIHF when it came to their little Olympic tournament happening in China.

In knowing that there were a number of teams, countries, and players waiting for a decision, the IIHF went to work. When they emerged from their boardroom, the IIHF officially had done nothing.

Don't confuse doing nothing with "making no changes". That's not what I wrote. I said they did nothing as in they neither made a decision on China's participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics nor did they give Norway any news on whether they'll be going to Beijing to play hockey. As I said, they did nothing.

According to Reuters,
"During a meeting on Nov. 26, the IIHF Council received a report from the expert group assigned to review all potentially eligible players that might be included on the Chinese men's national team roster," an IIHF spokesperson told Reuters.

"The council was also presented with the most up-to-date eligibility documents from the Chinese Ice Hockey Association concerning the players that were included in its long list.

"These documents, together with the expert evaluation report, will be reviewed over the coming weeks before the council reconvenes to determine further actions. The status of the Chinese men's national team is unchanged."
As I said above, they literally did nothing except listen to China try and make a case for more players to help them be more competitive. They didn't hold their end of the bargain to make a decision that affects not only China, but Norway as well. They didn't improve their little Olympic tournament by any measure. They didn't ensure a more competitive field for the Olympic men's hockey competition. They did nothing.

Instead, they agreed to review the new information presented by the Chinese Ice Hockey Association and reconvene on December 6 where a decision can be made about China's participation in the men's hockey tournament. They literally met to plan another meeting, and these are the people in charge of all the major international ice hockey tournaments on the planet. Astounding.

Honestly, whoever was on China's list of potentially eligible players should have already been in the mix if China was truly serious at competing in their own Olympic Games. The fact that they were withholding or sitting on these names throughout the build-up to this point shows a complete lack of respect for the tournament and for the IIHF since these names could have been reviewed long before November 26.

What makes this laughable, though, is that these eligible players likely won't change much for China's level of competition when it comes to playing teams like Canada and the US. Why the IIHF is even giving these new players any consideration is beyond me, but I guess the IIHF is doing their due diligence to be fair in this process.

I get that China holds all sorts of opportunities for the growth of sports for a number of international federations, but the fact that China can force the IIHF into another week of deliberations because it magically came up with more names for potentially-eligible players is a farce. Just oust the 32nd-ranked Chinese team for being nothing more than a scrimmage team for the opposing nations in their pool, and allow the 11th-ranked team on the planet in Norway to replace them. Having them add a million more names won't make their team any more competitive.

Instead, we'll wait until December 6 for the IIHF's decision.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 25 November 2021

The Hockey Show - Episode 479

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is all about Milan, Paris, and New York City tonight as Jenna jumps into the fray for a bit of a fashion show on the program tonight! For those that know me, I have the fashion sense of a clown, so having Jenna on the show lends a lot more credence to the fashion opinions you'll hear tonight because she's an icon. We'll rip a few teams for their obvious lack of fashionable ideas while celebrating others among the pieces we'll discuss tonight!

After getting caught up with Jenna, the two hosts discuss thoughts on MacEwan's first half of their inaugural Canada West season, they wish good health and quick recoveries to a couple players who were injured last weekend, and then they dive into the fashion show. Teebz and Jenna break down the new "Jersey" alternate jersey from New Jersey, the new look for Canada at the Olympics, Team USA's new uniforms, and Team Finland's new uniforms. They also chat about the new member of the Hockey Hall of Fame Committee and why this appointment is important, some historical perspective for women's hockey when it comes to the HHOF, the amazing start to the season for the Utica Comets, they circle back to a missed new uniform, and they highlight one official's busy December who has local ties! Our hockey fashion opinions fill the hour tonight, so make sure you tune in at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via UMFM.com!

Before we jump ahead, we'd be remiss here at The Hockey Show if we didn't throw out a Happy Thanksgiving to our American listeners and friends as they celebrate their Turkey Day today! Enjoy the day with family and friends, eat all the delicious offerings, laugh, smile, and make memories after a long break between Thanksgiving gatherings! If you need some goofy hockey talk post-meal, The Hockey Show can fill your ears with some puck goodness!

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 and Jenna chat about first seasons, bad fashion choices, good fashion design, new jobs, hockey history, great starts, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: November 25, 2021: Episode 479
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Oh... Canada?

If the flag to the left looks a little off, you don't need your eyes checked. It simply has been rendered in Canada's hockey colours that they're primarily wear in Beijing at the 2022 Winter Olympics. If that flag's new colours are blasphemous in your view, you're probably like me in asking why Canada needs black in its colour scheme when the red and white colours are so iconic. Canada's Olympic people seem to have no issue with the Great White North going dark, though, so we'll see more black than white at the upcoming Winter Olympic Games.

The first thing that should be mentioned is that none of the teams that play at the Olympics are allowed to use their hockey federations' logos on the front of their jerseys. That means that the Hockey Canada logo is out, replaced with a standard maple leaf since the 2010 Olympics. For countries like Sweden who use the Tre Kronor or the Finns who use a stylized lion, this isn't an issue as they don't use their hockey federations' logos, but it did affect both Canada and the US as they had to move away from their long-used hockey logos.

Because of these rules, Canada seems to recreate their look for each and every Olympiad, and it seems to be getting worse and worse each time. Canada's new look for 2022? It seems very black and red.
I am baffled by these uniforms with respect to the amount of black used, and the all-black uniform is downright un-Canadian in terms of our country's colours. I don't know who green-lit these uniforms or allowed Nike to make them as they did, but I am baffled how Hockey Canada officials would look at these uniforms be proud of representing the country's colours as they are.

Confused at how much black Canada will be wearing while playing for gold, I went looking for the answer to the question, "How can Canada be allowed to wear black when it's not an official colour?"

It turns out that a country doesn't have to use its flag colours if it chooses. Chris Rudge, CEO of the 2010 Canadian Olympic Committee, explained it to the Globe & Mail.
Look, I get Alpine Canada or Speed-Skating Canada not wanting to change their uniforms. It's expensive to outfit a team and, like Rudge stated, people identify their athletes with uniforms they know. If Canadian skiers wear yellow, it's easy to pick them out of a crowd of skiers based on their uniform colour.

Hockey Canada, however, spends more in a month than Alpine Canada likely spends in a decade. As we know, they have new uniforms for each Olympiad, so there is no reason whatsoever why the Canadian Olympic Committee, the IIHF, and the International Olympic Committee can't tell Hockey Canada and Nike to ditch the black uniform and use the country's official colours. There isn't one other country that wears a black alternate uniform at the Olympics, so why does Canada get to be different? Who allowed them to loophole a very reasonable suggestion?

Since you already know my stance on black jerseys as a general rule, my feelings towards Canada's latest entry in the Olympic fashion show follow the same extreme dislike. Canada is always red and white just as the Devils should always be red, white, and green, so there was absolutely no need for a black jersey that eliminates one of Canada's flag colours entirely. That should never be allowed.

This won't be the last time I stand on this hill, but it certainly is the hill I'll die on: stop dressing teams in black if it's not one of their primary colours, and certainly if that colour doesn't appear as a country's flag colour. The Olympics are a two-week tournament, so having an alternate jersey for that timespan is idiotic as it is. But for Canada to have a black uniform at all is pure lunacy.

I'll cheer for Team Canada out of nationalistic pride, but it's hard to cheer for a jersey that you hate. Thankfully, being a proud Canadian means so much more, especially when there's a gold medal hanging around the necks of our hockey heroes.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

New Jersey, Literally

As a guy who has four black jerseys in his collection of jerseys, the world decided it was time to drop a piano on me with the lastest unveilings that have happened over the last few days. Of the black jerseys I do own, I possess an NHL All-Star jersey from the 1990s, a Dallas Stars alternate "Mooterus" jersey, a Penguins diagonal jersey from the '90s, and a Niagara Purple Eagles jersey. The last one is the hardest to stomach because Niagara are the PURPLE Eagles, but I don't dress Niagara's players. Hockey needs to be more colourful in this writer's opinion, so I avoid black jerseys as often as I can because hockey has more to offer than black and white.

I struggle with the decision to introduce black jerseys into any team's closet unless they already use black prominently in their colour scheme. Boston and Pittsburgh get a pass because that's one of their main colours. Arizona gets a pass for the Kachina jerseys, but only those jerseys. Teams like Carolina, Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Jose need to avoid black jerseys altogether and find ways to re-work their current schemes rather than just being lazy with a black jersey. But this is just one man's opinion on the subject, and I certainly have no control over what NHL teams decide to wear.

New Jersey was always the shining example of not giving into a cheap, black jersey when Lou Lamoriello ran the show in Newark. Yes, they wore the red-and-green a few times for special occasions, and the throwbacks always got rave reviews. When the Devils changed their ACCENT colour from green to black, they removed one of the great colour combinations from being seen by hockey fans, but that was as far as Lou went when it came to tinkering with jerseys. And then Lou left, a new regime took over, and now we're being introduced to an abomination.

Jersey's New "Jersey" Jersey

I feel like this jersey was created as a joke before someone of influence saw it and said, "Yeah, you have something here." This is the New Jersey's new "Jersey" jersey that they'll wear as an alternate this season, and I can already feel the anger in me bubbling to the surface.

Martin Brodeur was good at stopping pucks, but he's lousy at designing jerseys. And by lousy, I mean they should never let him design anything ever again. Brodeur is responsible for this crime against humanity, and he literally jammed three teams' worth of history into one jersey. I should also add that these three teams have no relation to one other outside of they all called Newark home at some point.

Brodeur "borrowed" the sleeve striping from the Newark Bulldogs, a minor-pro team that played in the Canadian American Hockey League for one season in 1928-29 after moving from Quebec City where they had been the Castors. The Bulldogs were led by Sprague Cleghorn, seen to the right, but he didn't lead them very far as the Bulldogs finished fifth out of six teams that season, missing the playoffs. They amassed a 14-26-0 record that season, but fell six points short of a playoff spot. It would be the only season of play for the Bulldogs as the Can-Am League would drop to five teams for the 1929-30 season, so kudos to Martin Brodeur for selecting a team to base this uniform on that lasted exactly one season before folding.

The shoulder yoke stripes were "borrowed" from the River Vale Skeeters that played out of River Vale, New Jersey - some 40 minutes north of Newark. The Skeeters played in the Eastern Amateur Hockey League, and the teams was made up entirely of reservists from the Winnipeg Rifles Regiment. Hughie Bell, seen to the left, was the star for the Skeeters, but the team's existence lasted from 1939-1942. Of the three seasons that they played, the 1940-41 season saw them turn in their best record as they went 29-34-2, but the team only won 16 and 18 games in the other two seasons. The highlight of their existence might have been in 1939-40 when the Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers practiced with the Skeeters at River Vale Arena. Kudos to Brodeur once more for basing a uniform off a team that held a three-year record of 63-110-13. That's the kind of team that should be celebrated.

We need to pump the brakes here because if we look a little closer, those two sweaters look fairly similar. Yes, the shoulder striping spacing has changed from 1928-29 to 1939-40, but that sleeve striping looks very similar in spacing and number. Did the Skeeters base their sweaters off what the Bulldogs wore one decade earlier? There's no definitive proof, but it's hard not to notice the similarities.

The Jersey Larks, the third team mentioned, seem to be tossed in just because they played in New Jersey. The Larks were residents of the Haddonfield Ice House located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey - some 90 minutes southwest of Newark. The Larks played in the Eastern Hockey League for one season in 1960-61, finishing with a 29-34-1 record for third-place out of four teams in the East Division. They'd upset the Clinton Comets in the first round, but they fell in the semifinal to the New Haven Blades. Alex Kuzma, seen to the right, is wearing what the Larks wore that season, and I'm not sure what Brodeur "borrowed" from this team's sweater outside of the lace-up collar? Either way, another losing team that lasted just one season in the league they played seems perfect for what Brodeur's design work represents.

Now that we know the new jersey is basically a modernized copy of what the Skeeters and Bulldogs wore with no new, unique, or distinguishing design elements to build on the Devils' brand, what exactly is the point of wearing "Jersey" across the team's chest? This is as bad as when the Dallas Stars wore "Dallas" across their chests. And spare me the "it's cool" nonsense because it's not new, it wasn't cool when Buffalo and Dallas did it, and it's certainly nothing about which one should be bragging. Your logo is your brand - wear your damned logo!

The rest of the marketing garbage about the striping meaning something and the lace in the collar meaning something and the crap inside the collar that no one sees meaning something is all just fluff. All that entire chatter is about is selling jerseys. It doesn't help the Devils win games. It doesn't make players stronger or faster. It doesn't make one shred of difference if they were wearing garbage bags or these uniforms - they're both black! - because a jersey is just a jersey. Save the marketing speak for the year-end video.

I know I lumped a lot of blame at the feet of Martin Brodeur, but I feel there should be an equal helping dished out to Jillian Frechette, the senior vice president of marketing for the Devils. She was involved in the design process as well, and she should never be allowed to do anything like that again. I don't know Miss Frechette at all, but she's as much to blame for the calamity of a jersey. This is why designers design clothes and marketing people market them to consumers - marketing people are more worried about their catch-phrases, buzzwords, and target demographics than honouring the game properly.

"But Teebz," you protest, "they did honour the history!", and I responded by pointing out that they simply redesigned the same thing that the Bulldogs and the Skeeters wore. They didn't honour the history as much as they stole it from teams that no longer exist and can't defend those designs. You know who else did that? Some Canadian NHL team. And you know where their script-logo jerseys are now? Mothballed. Guess where this jersey is headed if we're lucky?

I'm pretty sure you know what kind of grade these uniforms are going to receive, so let's not make this longer than it has to be. I hate these jerseys, and "hate" isn't even a strong enough word for how I feel about them. If this design was dropped it on to my desk as someone who held the cards in Newark, I'd light it on fire. And then I'd let that fire consume my office before allowing the building to burn the ground. And then I would ask that the remains be allowed to scorch the earth where the building stood. I hate this jersey that much.

I'd tell you these jerseys deserve a special place in hell, but we already know that they're going to be worn by the Devils this season.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 22 November 2021

TBC: Face Off

It's rare where I find time that doesn't have me involved in a dozen things that need my attention, but this past week has allowed me to dive into another story that I wanted to tackle. I really enjoyed Power Plays, the first book written by Maureen Ulrich in the Jessie Mac hockey series, so it made complete sense to tackle the second book in the series! Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Face Off, written by Maureen Ulrich and published by Wood Dragon Books, as we dive back into Jessie McIntyre's life in Estevan, Saskatchewan as she enters high school while trying to navigate friendships, relationships, hockey, family, and a number of other problems and situations that teenagers face. Would a new book mean a whole new set of problems for Jessie to solve? It seems likely, but we know from Power Plays that Jessie finds good resolutions to these problems even when her path to the answers seems rocky.

From her bio on the Wood Dragon Books website, "Maureen was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan but grew up in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta. In 1976, she returned to Saskatoon to attend university and graduated in 1980 with an education degree. Her first teaching assignment was in Lampman, Saskatchewan, and she has pretty much lived there ever since. Maureen has been writing plays for young people since 1997. In her free time – of which there is not a great deal – Maureen loves to read and write, travel, knit, hang out at rinks and ball diamonds, golf, ski, and ride her motorcycle." It should be noted that Maureen's Jessie Mac series is made up for four books: Power Plays, Face Off, Breakaway, and Shootout!

As summer is coming to a close, Jessie encounters her first major issue as she looks forward to U18 hockey and high school - Mark, her boyfriend, ends their relationship after alcohol and bad decisions lead to some public embarrassment for Jessie. Jessie struggles with her towards Mark throughout the entire story of Face Off as Jessie wonders why Mark suddenly turns cold and ignores her during every encounter the two have.

Beyond her fractured relationship with Mark, there are still other people Jessie has to worry about in Face Off as Kim is still part of her life, Marsha lurks around the edges, and the repulsive Greg still tries to make advances on Jessie. There are new people who we're introduced to in this book, though, as hockey players Brittni and Cory make life difficult for the Xtreme players, Jessie meets Michelle who was a bit of an outcast at Estevan Junior High, and new assistant coach Sue seems cold and uncaring to Jessie. Needless to say, Jessie has all sorts of new personalties to navigate as she makes her way through her first year of high school at Estevan Comprehensive School!

One example of all the personalties that Jessie deals with in Face Off is highlighted in the following passage. It reads,
"It's tough to tell which end of the bench is worse. At one end, Mr. Scott yells at our defence. Jennifer argues anf pouts when Mr. Scott makes her sit out a shift. Even Kim looks uncomfortable. At our end, Cory harps at Crystal for not coming off soon enough, and Brittni stays out as long as she wants, which is often way longer than two minutes. Sometimes my shift is only ten of fifteen seconds. Amber hardly sees the ice."
Needless to say, there are a lot of strong personalities on that bench with whom Jessie will need to co-exist, but can she? Will she?

A new opportunity at the U18 level for Jessie erases some of the worries she's experiencing, but Face Off exposes readers to some recurring issues seen in Power Plays while Jessie faces a new set of problems as well - new bullies, peer pressure to hurt others, self-harm, and poor decisions made by drinking make up some of the story arc in Face Off. Jessie struggles with some of these issues as she tries to find solutions for each of them, but some are beyond her control. Will her world spin out of control because of these issues she's facing?

If there's one constant I've found in reading these two books by Maureen Ulrich, it's that Maureen doesn't sugarcoat the issues. She's very clear about these issues facing teenagers, and her description of them may make readers uncomfortable. That emotional response felt by the reader means that Maureen is doing her job well, and there were definitely a few times in Face Off where I know I felt uncomfortable with the subject matter simply because I don't think about it a lot. By having this uncomfortable feeling bubble to the surface, Maureen is doing what everyone else should be doing: talking about these issues with their friends and family so that the stigma surrounding these situations isn't a wall preventing someone from seeking help.

Like Power Plays, Face Off was another easy read for me as I was drawn in by the story once more. The 192-page book doesn't speak above the heads of its readers, and the subject matter is completely relatable for adults while younger readers may relate to situations they've experienced, seen, or heard about in their own lives. And while Jessie doesn't always make the reight decisions, young readers will see the cause and effect of her decisions. Because Maureen sprinkles these lessons into a realistic and entertaining story about being a teenager and dealing with life, Face Off is absolutely deserving of the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

There are situations and discussions that wouldn't be suitable for younger kids, but the vast majority of Face Off deals with moments that young men and women will experience. Because of this, Face Off would earn a PG-13 rating, and I'd recommend this book for teens and older. Look for Face Off at your local bookstore or library today!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 21 November 2021

The Rundown - Week 6

It's back to a normal edition of The Rundown as class was back in session on the ice for eight of the nine Canada West teams. MacEwan got a chance to extend their holiday for another week as they had the bye week, but there were intrigung matchups across western Canada with a battle for first-place taking place in Calgary, a showdown between two good teams in Vancouver, a meeting in Saskatoon for teams looking to get their seasons on winning streaks, and a meeting in Regina between two teams needing points. In short, it was another busy weekend so let's get to it on The Rundown!

FRIDAY: We'll start with that battle for first-place as Mount Royal was hosting Manitoba while holding a one-point edge over the Bisons in the standings. In knowing that Mount Royal is ranked fourth in the nation, this would be the kind of weekend where Manitoba could send a statement on whether it plans on competing for a Canada West banner or just took advantage of some weaker teams in the early part of the schedule. Friday night's game saw Manitoba start its veteran goalie in Erin Fargey while fifth-year senior Zoe De Beauville got the call for the Cougars!

The opening frame saw Mount Royal control the period for the most part, but that control was lost before the midway point as Sarah Dennehy found the back of the net on the power-play for her first goal of the season at 8:24, and the Bisons grabbed the 1-0 lead. Beyond that, the shots that Fargey turned aside did test her, but she was good on all challenges as we'd hit the break with that one-goal lead holding despite Mount Royal holding a 9-4 edge in shots.

We'd jump to the midway point of the second period where the next notable event happened. With Mount Royal on the power-play, Courtney Kollman ripped her sixth goal of the season past Fargey at 10:10 to even the score at 1-1. 90 seconds later, Ashley Keller introduced herself to the Mount Royal faithful when she found room past De Beauville off a feed from Halle Edwards for her fifth goal of the season, and the Bisons went back up by a goal! The Mount Royal power-play wouldn't waste an opportunity in this period, though, as Tianna Ko scored her sixth goal of the campaign at 18:57, and we'd go into the second intermission with the score tied at 2-2!

With a significant lead in shots-on-net, it felt like it may only be a matter of time before Mount Royal made one of them count, and that would happen at the 6:46 mark of the third period when Anna Purschke potted her second goal of the season to put Mount Royal up 3-2. That would literally be all the offence necessary for the Cougars on this night because they outshot the Bisons for a third-straight period despite Manitoba playing the last 1:41 with six attackers. When the final horn sounded, the Mount Royal Cougars had downed the Manitoba Bisons by that 3-2 count. Zoe De Beauville earned her sixth win of the season after stopping 12 shots while Erin Fargey took the loss on a night where she made 28 saves.

Highlights are... well, not here. Despite Mount Royal posting two new videos to their YouTube channel in the last two weeks, they posted no highlight packages nor did they put any replays of goals on their Twitter account. When someone offers free promotion of your athletes, you'd think they'd jump at the offer, but I guess "free" is simply not worth the effort.

SATURDAY: Mount Royal looked to extend their lead over the Bisons and the rest of the field with a sweep of the Bisons while the Bisons needed a win to keep pace with the Cougars. As shown in the game on Friday, these two teams are fairly even, but the Cougars did earn the vital two points. Saturday saw Kimmy Davidson sent to the blue paint for Manitoba while Zoe De Beauville was looking for her conference-leading seventh win in the Mount Royal net!

The goaltenders seemed quite satisfied in matching one another save for save throughout the first period. There weren't many shots for De Beauville to turn aside as Manitoba registered just two shots in the period, but Davidson was good on all nine she faced. Through one period, we were still locked at 0-0.

When the second period started, Davidson and De Beauville were back at it with their stingy ways as Davidson stopped all ten shots she faced while De Beauville turned aside the four shots she faced. However, like one night earlier, you were getting the sense that Mount Royal's ability to put pucks on net may pay off eventually as they led 19-6 in shots through two frames. No, that's not a typo.

And just as I alluded to, the Cougars would finally break through as Taylor Sawka found room past Davidson at 3:55 for her fourth of the season as Mount Royal went up 1-0. It looked like this game was over as the Cougars' defence absolutely smothered the Bisons all game, but Manitoba's third shot of the period and ninth shot of the game off the stick of Molly Kunnas was the equalizer the Bisons needed! Wait, is that a highlight? You're darn right it is, and I had to rip that from the Bisons women's hockey Twitter account to post it here! In any case, Molly's power-play marker was her second goal of the season and, with 14 seconds left, it would send this game to overtime as the Bisons earned themselves a point with the late-game heroics!

With Athena Hauck still sitting in the penalty box serving the second-half of a double-minor to start overtime, we'd get a game-winner early in the free-hockey period. And it was a woman who had spent a lot of time in Calgary prior to joining the Bisons who ended this one! Trechelle Bunn's first goal as a Manitoba Bisons defender is a memorable one as she ripped the puck over De Beauville's shoulder and under the bar for the power-play, overtime, game-winning goal! In short, that's a PPOTGWG - do they keep stats for that?

In any case, the Bisons escaped with the 2-1 overtime win over the Cougars! Kimmy Davidson earned her second win with a 33-save performance while Zoe De Beaville took the loss on a night where she only made eight saves.

Highlights of this game are... above? Sorry, Mount Royal fans, but your school simply refuses to show off the talent head coach Scott Rivett has assembled for you. Perhaps it's time to ask them to do more for your athletes?
FRIDAY: The last time the Pandas and Thunderbirds squared off was the Canada West semifinal that took place in Edmonton. Both games finished in 1-0 victories for the Pandas as they swept the T-Birds out of the playoffs, but the series was anything but friendly. Would we see these two teams renew that fierce battle in Vancouver this weekend? Halle Oswald started for the Pandas while UBC went with former Edmonton Pandas AAA netminder Elise Hugens in their crease!

The first period was inconclusive in terms of scoring as there were no pucks that made their way behind the two goalies. Alberta did have 3:12 of power-play time, but it was UBC outshooting the Pandas 7-5 through 20 minutes in a 0-0 stalemate.

I mentioned the power-play time above because one of those penalties carried over into the second period. Alberta didn't score on the power-play - they missed by two seconds - but they did break the stalemate when Madison Willan found Megan Wilson on a 2-on-1, and Wilson snapped a shot past Hugens for her first Canada West goal just 50 seconds into the period to give Alberta the lead! The defensive battle would resume after that until late in the period. Ireland Perrott got a couple of whacks at the puck as Oswald tried to cover it, but it would end up in the Alberta net for Perrott's third goal of the season at 15:32 which tied the game at 1-1! That score would hold into the second break as we looked for winner heading to the third period!

As an aside, individial highlights are better than nothing. Beggars can't be choosers, right? Let's just roll with this while teams are willing to make the available.

Late in the game, UBC was pressing and they had Alberta pinned in their zone when the puck found its way to the point where Ashton Thorpe hammered back towards the Alberta net. She wouldn't score, but the puck would pinball around a little until Ashley McFadden found it on the doorstep! McFadden's second of the season was a dagger with 1:08 to play, so you knew Alberta was going to play desperate hockey for 68 seconds. That threat would be eliminated, though, when Rylind MacKinnon iced the game with her fourth of the season as the UBC Thunderbirds claimed the 3-1 victory over the Alberta Pandas! Elise Hugens was solid in earning her fourth win of the season with a 15-stop night while Halle Oswald took the loss in a 22-save effort.

If you came looking for Alberta Pandas highlights to go along with the UBC highlights above, that's not happening. UBC posted videos of four swim meets over the last two weeks, but there are zero hockey highlights. I'm not here to rip on swimming, but how about a little equal coverage, UBC?

SATURDAY: After suffering their second regulation loss on the season, the Pandas needed a bounce-back game to get themselves back ahead of UBC in the standings. UBC, meanwhile, was looking to put some gap between themselves and Alberta with another win on Saturday. Kirsten Chamberlin was between the pipes for the Pandas while Elise Hugens earned her second start of the weekend after a great showing one night earlier!

If you're a Pandas fan, this is not the first period recap you want to see because it was pretty much all UBC for the first 20 minutes. Karine Sandilands scored her first Canada West goal in her career when she tore down the left wing, out-manoeuvred the Pandas defenders, and sniped a beauty past Chamberlin to make it 1-0 just 2:32 into this contest. The T-Birds would double that lead at 11:28 on the power-play. That was Joelle Fiala who appeared to whiff on the puck at the backdoor, but she got enough of it to send it past Chamberlin for her second of the season at 11:28! And Rylind MacKinnon would rub a little more salt in the wound as she scored with seven seconds left in the period as her blast from the blue line was good for her fifth tally this year. When all was said and done in the first period, UBC held a 3-0 lead, an 11-5 advantage in shots, and a serious chunk of offensive zone time.

The second period was more of the same as UBC continued to pressure Alberta all over the ice, but the goals were reduced somewhat. In fact, there was only a single goa scored in the period, and it came at 14:13. This is textbook "keep your stick on the ice" from Kenzie Robinson as she redirects the Shay-Lee McConnell feed to the crease past Chamberlin for her third goal of the season, and UBC was up 4-0 through 40 minutes of play.

's second The third period was all about clamping down defensively for the T-Birds, and they did just that as they limited Alberta's second chance opportunities on the three power-plays they surrendered to shutout the Pandas on this day as the T-Birds secured the 4-0 victory. Elise Hugens claimed her fifth win and conference-leading third shutout after stopping all 23 shots sent her way while Kirsten Chamberlin was tagged with the loss after stopping 24 shots.

Highlights are few and far between at UBC for their own team. You would think a shutout by your ace rookie in the net would be worthy of some sort of highlight package, right? What do the players need to do to get their athletics department to throw together a few clips of how well they played?

FRIDAY: Calgary headed east to Saskatoon for a date with the Huskies this weekend, and earning points was a top priority for both teams. Saskatchewan was struggling to score goals in any situation while the Dinos seemingly were having issues preventing goals from being scored. Something would have to give this weekend if one of these teams wanted to climb the standings. Gabriella Durante was in the Calgary net Friday night while the Huskies opted to start Colby Wilson in this one. And because it matters to me, Calgary wore their black alternate uniforms for this affair.

While both teams were looking for scoring, it should be noted that goaltending has yet to be a problem for either team. That was on full display in the opening period of this series as Durante and Wilson were showing off their best stuff in keeping these two teams off the scoreboard. With no goals scored, the only statistic to report is that Saskatchewan led 7-5 in shots after 20 minutes depsite having a four-minute advantage in the middle of the period.

The goaltending clinic continued in the second period as Durante and Wilson continued to maintain their clean scoresheets. The parade to the penalty box saw a few more names added to the list as the game was showed its physical side, but neither side could take advantage of the extra player on the ice. We'd head to the third period still locked in at 0-0, but with Calgary up 15-14 in shots.

The third period felt like a carbon copy of the previous two periods, but one miscue changed everything. Just before the midway point of the period, Saskatchewan was looking for a change when Emily Holmes dumped the puck in on Durante from center ice. Holmes' dump-in was put on net and I'm not sure if Durante lost sight of it or she simply misplayed it, but Holmes didn't have to skate far to celebrate with her teammates as her dump-in ended up in the Calgary net for her first Canada West goal at 7:54 as Saskatchewan grabbed the 1-0 lead!

The chess matched continued after that goal as the Dinos looked to press when possible as they needed the equalizer. However, another seemingly harmless play ended up costing the Dinos late in the game. Durante made the initial stop on the long shot from Bourassa, but the puck popped loose and Abby Shirley swept it by Durante for her first of the season at 17:11 to make it a 2-0 game for the Huskies. Just as they did for the previous 57:11, the Huskies locked down their zone for the remaining 2:49, and the final horn would sound on the 2-0 victory by the Huskies! Colby Wilson picked up her first Canada West win and her first Canada West shutout with a 22-save night while Gabriella Durante took the loss after making 23 stops.

Highlights? You already got them. For the record, Saskatchewan didn't load any up on their YouTube channel. Instead, I did after I ripped these videos from their Twitter feed. Not apologizing for that either.

SATURDAY: I've made it clear a few times on this blog that I will not celebrate blowouts. There is no need to make the team on the receiving end of that blowout go through it all over again, so this is your foreshadowing that Saturday's game didn't end well for one of the Huskies or Dinos. That being said, Calgary started Dayna Owen while Saksatchewan went with Camryn Drever.

In a scary moment just 31 seconds into this game, Calgary's Holly Reuther fell hard into the boards and required medical attention. She was stretchered off the ice by paramedics who safely made sure she was secure in the ambulance before hauling her to a local hospital. I can't imagine starting a game like this, and my thoughts go out to Holly, her teammates, her family, and her friends in this time. I truly hope she's not seriously hurt in any way, and she's back on the ice for the Dinos soon. Get well, Holly. This game is better with you in it.

After that scary moment, the game eventually resumed some 30 minutes later. Usually when something like that happens, a team either comes out with fire or sees them deflated in a big way. For Calgary, the latter was true as the Huskies went to work. Abby Shirley scored her second goal of the season on the power-play at 1:54. Kendra Zuchotzki added her first Canada West goal on a power-play at 4:10. After a Calgary time-out, it looked like things may settle down, but Sophie Lalor added her third goal at 8:44 to end Dayna Owen's night as Gabriella Durante replaced her in the Calgary net. The goalie change mattered little to the Huskies, though, as Abby Shirley scored again at 9:28 to make it a 4-0 lead. While Durante would settle in for the last half of the period, it was pretty clear that the Dinos had more important things like the health of Holly Reuther on their minds as the first period came to a close.

Just eight seconds into the second period, Bailee Bourassa made it 5-0 with her first goal of the season. Alli Borrow would get one back for the Dinos at 8:27, but the Huskies would go up by five once again when Kendra Zuchotzki scored her second of the game while on the power-play at 12:58. After 40 minutes, Saskatchewan held a 6-1 lead.

Sophie Lalor would add her second of the game on the power-play at 14:52 in the third period, and Kennedy Brown rounded out the scoring with her second of the season on the power-play with 25 seconds remaining as the Huskies trounced the Dinos by an 8-1 score. Camryn Drever earned her fourth win with a 25-save performance while Dayna Owen was the goalie of record in the loss as she stopped just one of the four shots she faced in the 8:44 she played. For statistical purposes, Gabriella Durante stopped 19 of 24 shots in 51:16 she played in relief of Owen.

Honestly, the result doesn't matter to me. I know Saskatchewan won and that matters for the bigger picture, but, right now, I'm just hoping that Holly Reuther's injury isn't serious, and her visit to the hospital was more precautionary than anything. I haven't heard any updates and I'm not going to seek them out as Holly deserves some privacy at this time, but there are things that are more important than hockey scores.

Here's hoping Holly is back on the ice soon because she's a helluva player for the Dinos. And just to make everyone feel a little better, here's an owlet being pet and looking like it's enjoying every second of the attention. Happy baby animals make me smile.

FRIDAY: Trinity Western made their first-ever visit to the Queen's City as the Regina Cougars hosted the Spartans for a pair of games this weekend. Both teams needed points in an effort to move up the standings in an effort to claim a playoff spot, so these games were big for both teams despite where they sit in the standings currently. Kate Fawcett was in the nets for Trinity Western while Arden Kliewer got the start for the Cougars!

We didn't have to wait long for the ink to be spilled on the scoresheet in this game as Jordan Kulbida decided to get the party started! Kulbida's third of the season came just 1:12 into this game, and the Regina Cougars held the early 1-0 lead! Kliewer was solid in the opening frame in the Regina end of the ice as she kept the Spartans off the scoreboard as the Cougars took that one-goal lead into the break after leading 12-7 in shots.

The two teams resumed their back-and-forth play in the second period, but it would be Trinity Western who found the twine at 8:16 while on the power-play! Neisha Germann's top-shelf snipe was her second of the season, and it evened the game up at 1-1! And just as Kliewer did for Regina in the first period, Kate Fawcett was solid throughout the second period as she turned aside nine more Regina shots as this game moved to the third period tied 1-1 with Regina holding a 21-18 egde in shots.

The close-checking contest continued through the opening minutes of the third period until we neared the midway point of the period when the Cougars struck once again! Lauren Focht's first Canada West goal comes on the power-play at 9:39 to give Regina the 2-1 lead! From there, the Cougars played solid defensive hockey as they shut down the Spartans through the final ten minutes. Focht's goal would be the game-winner as the Regina Cougars downed the Trinity Western Spartans by a 2-1 count! Arden Kliewer made 22 saves to pick up her second win of the season while Kate Fawcett suffered the loss despite making 33 saves in this game.

Highlights are above. Regina hasn't uploaded anything to YouTube in four months. It's not hard to upload these video clips.

SATURDAY: While they're not mathematically-eliminated by any means, the Spartans needed a split to remain in the conversation for the final playoff spot in Canada West. Regina, meanwhile, looked to make things interesting in the standings with another win. Mable Maltais got the nod for Spartans in the back-half of the set while Katie Crowther was in between the pipes for the Cougars.

The Spartans stormed the gate in this game as they came out firing on all cylinders. Olivia Leier scored her first Canada West goal by cleaning up a goalmouth scramble as she fired the puck past Crowther at 8:42 to put the Spartans up 1-0. They'd double their lead and record a little history at the same time minutes later when Chloe Reid found herself on a shorthanded breakaway. The Cougars would track Reid down to disrupt her shot, but Jordyn Matthews followed up and she potted the rebound for her first Canada West goal and Trinity Western's first-ever shorthanded Canada West goal at 16:48! On that same power-play, though, the Cougars would get the goal back. Lauren Focht was left all alone at the side of the net where she chipped her second goal and second power-play goal over Maltais to cut Trinity Western's lead to 2-1 at 17:07, and that score would hold into the break with Regina holding a 12-6 advantage in shots.

Lauren Focht was having herself a weekend this weekend based on the number of highlights in which she appears! Focht's second of the game at 7:07 was her third goal and third power-play goal of the season, and it tied the game at 2-2! Trinity Western went back to work, though, as Olivia Leier scored her second goal of the game by cleaning up another rebound in front of Crowther to make it a 3-2 game for TWU, prompting Sarah Hodges to send Arden Kliewer out to replace Crowther in the Regina net. While things improved for a few minutes, the Spartans struck again before the end of the period as Kailey Ledoux scored her first Canada West goal when she finished off a wrap-around goal that started at her own blue line at 18:13, and the Spartans carried a two-goal lead into the third period for the first time in their short history!

The Cougars continued to throw pucks at the Spartans net, but Mabel Maltais was dialled in for this game. However, the Cougars would claw their way back into this game. Jordyn Blais' shot was stopped by Maltais, and Lilla Carpenter-Boesch jumped all over the rebound left out front by Maltais for her fourth goal of the campaign which cut the Spartans' lead to 4-3 at 12:07! The Spartans, though, locked down the defensive zone for the final eight minutes of the game as Regina couldn't find the equalizer, and the Trinity Western Spartans earned the 4-3 victory over the Regina Cougars! Mabel Maltais earned her first Canada West victory with a 30-save effort while, despite what the scoresheet says, Katie Crowther was the goalie of record in this game as she stopped five of eight shots she faced in 27:13 of work. However, Arden Kliewer was tagged with the loss despite stopping nine of ten shots in 31:31 of work.

We already know Regina's not doing highlights, but check out this awesome camera angle they posted on Twitter. That's the work of Arthur Ward who runs Arthur Images and is the official photographer of the Regina Cougars. Honestly, I need more of these angles in games. This is awesome - great work, Arthur!
School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
Mount Royal
16 35 15
14 28 23
vs ALB
12 32 9
12 19 9
vs UBC
9 15 19
8 20 25
6 12 22
6 22 38
vs REG
Trinity Western
4 8 31
vs MAC

The Last Word

I spoke of the importance of special teams last week during the conference bye, and we saw special teams play a huge role in wins this week. The only teams who are sitting below 10% in power-play efficiency are Calgary and Trinity Western. And to no one's surprise, they're sitting at the bottom of the conference. However, Trinity Western saw a shorthanded goal factor into a big win over Regina this past weekend, and I made mention how important shorthanded goals were to wins. Improve your special teams, and you'll win.

I'm also going to point out that individual clips of goals are better than nothing when it comes to highlights, but, for the love of all that's good, it extends the length of this article by a country mile and creates a ton of extra work for me. Highlight packages are so much easier to post at the end of the recaps, take up far less room on these write-ups, and show highlights from BOTH teams at the same time. I apologize for making everyone scroll through all the individual highlights, but I'm committed to showing everyone how great these women are when it comes to doing amazing stuff on the ice.

If you want to that to change, I implore you to speak to your local teams to see if they can get their athletics departments to lend a hand. Otherwise, what you see above might be the unfortunate standard moving forward.

I'm not going to add anything else because of the length of this piece already, so we'll leave it at that for this week. I may circle to revisit the highlights once more, but at least they're sorta posted this week.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!