Saturday 31 December 2022

New Year's Eve On Sleds!

I don't usually go out for New Year's Eve simply because I'm usually asleep shortly after the clock hits midnight. While the evening activities on this day have certainly been reduced by choice, there was a great daytime activity that happened today at the Hockey For All Centre as part of the Winnipeg Jets Challenge Cup event - sledge hockey! And not only was it a showcase event for Sledge Hockey Manitoba, but the game played featured a pile of amazing athletes who had the crowd on the edges of their seats thanks to their skill, speed, and talent on the ice!

If you've been listening to The Hockey Show over the last few months, we've been advocating for greater support for both the Para Men's National Team and the Para Women's National Team from everyone - sponsors, fans, hockey organizations, and more - in order for these athletes and teams to continue their growth and development. We've seen some great partners step up and help, but there's still a distinct lack of assistance from organizations like Hockey Manitoba and Hockey Canada when it comes to pushing the sled game to new heights domestically and internationally.

That was the purpose of the Sledge Hockey Manitoba Showcase today as they looked to expose the game to a large group of people at the Winnipeg Jets Challenge Cup while trying to raise a few funds through a raffle and donation table. The key part of that strategy might be the exposure in that the sport of sledge hockey in Manitoba likely has less than 100 players total in the entire province, so getting some new people into the sport and on the ice would do wonders for potentially growing the game. Based on the crowd and those who watching from behind the glass, I'd say more than a couple hundred people stopped and watched the sledge hockey action, even if they only stopped briefly. For some, that could be all it takes to get them interested!

The action on the ice during the game was fast and fun. Players made great players, bursts of speed to get by defenders were seen, the goalies were incredible with saves on a number of scoring opportunities, and the smiles were infectuous for both the players and those watching as the showcase became a show based on skill and speed. Breakaways were thwarted with great saves, goalmouth scrambles saw players blocking shots and clearing rebounds, and fist bumps on the benches from teammates and coaches were seen all game long!

I need to give a couple of shoutouts to people who deserve some recognition as well. The man to the left, Kyle Calder, was the brains behind this Showcase today and he was the one who invited me to down to witness one heckuva game. He may have been the losing goalie today, but there's absolutely zero doubt that he's making the game better in Manitoba with his passion and dedication to the sport. I need to thank Kyle for the invitation, and it was an honour to watch you defend one of the nets today!

Other people who need to be recognized include Renald Bilodeau, a long-time friend I see at softball during the summer, who I discovered is the President of Sledge Hockey Manitoba! He and I had a great conversation about everything that the organization is trying to do. Logan Bilodeau, his son, was named to the 2022-23 National Para Hockey Team selection camp this past year, and he was downright larcenous with some of his stops in the game today. I also need to mention Jaylene Irwin of Manitoba Possible who played in the game, but is working alongside Sledge Hockey Manitoba to grow the game within Manitoba! These people are doing some of the heavy lifting in Manitoba when it comes to Sledge Hockey. They are amazing people, and it's an honour to know them!

I won't sugarcoat this, folks: neither Hockey Canada nor Hockey Manitoba is doing a lot to support these men and women who play sledge hockey. As we know with abled-bodied hockey, the costs of things like ice-time, travel, training, and nutrition and diet all factor into how far a player's career may go and how long a player may be able to play. And while the costs of a sled and equipment are about equivalent to what able-bodied players pay for their gear, often it's finding places to play and people to play with that is sometimes the biggest struggle for sledge hockey players.

Growth of the game is vital to the sport's longevity, and today's showcase game has me wanting to get out on a sled to see if I can keep up with some of the players. I don't think there's a chance of that happening for a while, but this is the catch: you don't need to have a disability to play the game. Sledge hockey is a game for everyone and truly is an embodiment of "Hockey is for everyone". There were a number of able-bodied people playing in today's game, and I'm here to encourage anybody and everybody to get on a sled and try sledge hockey at least once in whatever corner of the world you live. It's a blast to play and the people who are part of the sport already as welcoming as any group I've ever seen!

I had a blast today in chatting with all the great people who were a part of the Sledge Hockey Manitoba Showcase, and that might be one of the changes you see on this blog come 2023 - more sledge hockey stories and news - as I now know a number of people from the sledge hockey community. I know I'll never be the Wayne Gretzky of sledge hockey by any means, but I can help bring more eyes to the sport by writing about it, talking about it, and promoting it in the hopes that the powers-that-be start to come around and fund the sport like it's part of our national sporting identity.

If hockey is for everyone, hockey funding should be too.

Until next time, see you in 2023!

Friday 30 December 2022

A Successful First Game

With the World Junior Championship happening and the Spengler Cup wrapping up today, there was an international game that seemed so much more important than anything happening at those two tournaments. The Hockey Can't Stop Tour kicked off in Saskatchewan tonight as the Saskatchewan Huskies men's hockey team hosted the Ukraine U25 men's national team in their preparation for the 2023 FISU University Games happening in Lake Placid in a couple of weeks' time. With the ongoing Russian invasion in Ukraine potentially derailing the Ukrainian team from playing, seeing the players in uniform in Canada preparing for the FISU Games is nothing short of amazing!

Let's get this out of the way early: scores didn't matter on this night. Yes, the Huskies downed the Ukrainian team by a 2-0 score off goals from Dawson Holt and Alec Zawatsky, but you got a sense as the game wore on that the Huskies were there for goodwill more than they were for winning an exhibition hockey game. The opening ceremonies alone showed how deeply the Saskatoon community had bought into helping the Ukrainian team, and the Huskies continued the hospitality with a fun game against a team that has little to no ice time since the war in Ukraine started.

"This is our third time on the ice together and we had a tough first period but we tried our best," Ukrainian forward Mikhailo Simchuk told Ryan Flaherty of before a smile appeared on his face. "Really good crowd. Everybody cheered for us, maybe some Canadian fans too."

After a young lady delivered impressive renditions of both the Ukrainian and Canadian national anthems, it was clear that there was a large contingent of fans in the near-capacity crowd to cheer for Team Ukraine and cheer against the Huskies!

"It's kind of weird being the away team in your own rink but that's just proof of the waves of support those guys are getting and their country is getting. It was really special to be a part of it," Huskies captain Connor Hobbs told Flaherty. “We just knew that this was a really important game, and we just wanted to come out and have a good competition and that's what it was."

A smile crept across Hobbs' face as he added, "They've got hundreds and hundreds of people singing their national anthem in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. That's pretty cool. We're lucky to be a part of it."

To me, this is the essence of this Hockey Can't Stop Tour - having the hockey community bond together to help other hockey players in need. If you heard Gord Miller on The Hockey Show yesterday, this whole four-game series came together in the summer thanks to Miller, the Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation, Jay Woodcroft of the Edmonton Oilers, Canada West, and the coaches in Canada West. With Ukraine locked in a battle for their own survival, it seemed like it was take something along the lines of a miracle to be able to get the Ukrainian players out of Ukraine and onto the ice in North America for the FISU Games, let alone the Hockey Can't Stop Tour.

Having those players take the ice tonight was special beyond measure, but the city of Saskatoon opening their arms and doors to these kids who should be more worried about performing a toe-drag than conducting an airstrike is incredible. I've seen the warmth of the people of Saskatoon, but I'm not sure these Ukrainian kids knew what was waiting for them when they set down in Canada. Saskatoon has set the bar high when it comes to having Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg match the hospitality shown by the northern Saskatchewan city, but that will benefit the Ukrainian team greatly as they find more and more people willing to throw their support behind them while supporting some great organizations helping to bring humanitarian help to Ukraine.

"We want to be ready for everything at the World University Games, so we'll work hard in these exhibition games and we’ll try to show our best," Simchuk told Flaherty. "Every player is so proud to play for their country in this very hard time."

I don't think the Ukrainian players have anything to worry about when it comes to showing their best. Their fans back home are cheering for them already and are proud of the effort they're making in playing the Canada West teams based on the YouTube chat during the broadcast of tonight's game, and it seems pretty clear that the local fans in Saskatoon - Ukrainian or not - were also proud of the effort the men gave tonight.

Would it have been nice to see the Ukrainian team win? Of course, but they'll get better as they get a few practices under their belts. Just seeing them take the ice is a huge accomplishment for everyone involved, and you can count me as one of the people who are cheering for the Ukrainian team no matter who they play in this four-game tour through Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 29 December 2022

The Hockey Show - Episode 536

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns with Jason in th co-pilot's chair as I completely misunderstood his text message to me last week when he said he was taking holidays. I actually thought he was going to be away tonight, but it turns out he'll be giving his thoughts and opining on hockey once more from the comforts of the UMFM studios. That might be the best news of the holiday season as I'm not sure anyone wants to hear me drone on about hockey for an hour.

The final episode of The Hockey Show goes tonight, and Teebz and Jason will be talking a lot of international hockey! Teebz sat down with TSN's Gord Miller prior to Christmas as they chatted about the Hockey Can't Stop Tour, so we'll hear Gord's thoughts on how the exhibition games came about, the plans for the Ukrainian U25 men's team while they're in Canada, and more before our hosts discuss a little bit more about what's happening in Winnipeg for the tour stop here. After that, Teebz and Jason will talk Spengler Cup and how Canada is faring in that tournament in Davos, Switzerland, the World Junior Championships and all the results seen in Moncton and Halifax, the Globe & Mail's ongoing investigation into the World Junior team and what happened in London, Ontario in 2018, and we have a pile of promotional stuff to get out to the public including an amazing event happening this weekend! The final episode of 2022 is going to be busy, so make sure you're tuned into The Hockey Show at 5:30pm CT on one of 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via!

If you live outside Winnipeg and want to listen, we have options! 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! 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 Jason talk Spengler Cup, World Junior Championship upsets, one of Hockey Canada's sponsors doing bad things, Team Ukraine and Canada West squaring off, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the web stream!

PODCAST: December 29, 2022: Episode 536

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 28 December 2022


With Boxing Day having passed us by, we are now less than one month from one of the biggest tournaments for university-bound women in this country as the 2023 Female World Sport School Challenge will take place at the Hockey For All Centre in Winnipeg from January 26-29, 2023. Some editions of this annual tournament have had eight teams, some have featured a full 16-team field, and last year's tournament had 12 teams, but it sounds like we'll be back to 16 teams this year as some of the best teams from across the continent meet in Winnipeg forFemale World Sport School Challengehe opportunity to call themselves "the best"! We'll know who is coming as we get closer to the dates of the tournament in 2023, but past editions of the Female World Sport School Challenge has featured some of women's hockey's stars of the future!

I've been posting teasers on Twitter about some of the great players we've witnessed on the ice at the tournament over the years, but I figured I should put these in one place just in case you've missed them or aren't on Twitter. Names such as Krzyzaniak, Potomak, and Iginla have all suited up at the tournament en route to representing Canada at the U18 Women's World Championship and beyond, but there have been some other players who have stood out at various levels of women's hockey who skated in Winnipeg as well. Let's take a look at some of these players.

The first player I had posted on Twitter is currently playing as part of the PWHPA's tour after she graduated from Northeastern where she was the NCAA's 2021 Patty Kazmeier Award winner. She's suited up for Team USA at the Women's World Championship, and she was a member of the famed Shattuck-St. Mary's program in 2016 when she helped Shattuck win the FWSSC championship banner! Frankel's going to be on the women's hockey scene for as long as she wants to be there based on how well she's played at every level, and we got to see her show her stuff back in 2016 at the tournament!

Another player who is making an impact at the international level is Jule Schiefer. Schiefer plays for her home country of Germany, and has represented her country at both the Women's World Championship and during Olympic qualifying games. We first saw Jule playing for the Banff Academy Bears back in 2018 when they were at the tournament, and she's taken the skills she learned there to the international stage! While Banff Hockey Academy is now the South Alberta Hockey Academy, we're still proud to have seen Jule skating for Banff at the 2018 tournament where she was a key part of the Bears team!

While she hails from Cross Lake, Manitoba, Kennesha Miswaggon has been a part of a number of winning teams in her career! The former Balmoral Hall Blazers defender won a JWHL title in 2018 while also earning a gold medal as part of Team Manitoba's entry at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship that same year! She was recruited by the UBC Thunderbirds where she helped them earn the Canada West banner last season, and we were lucky enough to see her earn a bronze medal at the 2018 Female World School Championship with the Blazers! With UBC leading Canada West at this point in the season, might we see back-to-back banners for the T-Birds and Miswaggon?

She certainly stood out at the tournament when she played, but Lauren Warkentin's impact at the AAA level and the university level can't be overstated. While she captained the Eastman Selects team at the 2017 Female World Sport School Challenge, she showed she was capable of carrying her team at times with her skating and vision from the blue line. That turned into a very successful career at the University of Manitoba where she was named to the 2018 Canada West All-Rookie Team before helping Manitoba win the U SPORTS National Championship! It was a treat to watch her control the game from the blue line at the AAA level before she went on to do bigger and more storied things at the university level!

Of course, we can't forget the home team's professional player who has accomplished a heckuva lot in her time in the game. Kayla Friesen was a St. Mary's Flames forward who scored seemingly at will, and she helped St. Mary's earn two bronze medals at the tournaments. She earned a silver medal at the U18 Women's World Hockey Championship with Team Canada, and was off for a very successful NCAA career. From there, she was drafted into the PHF by the Connecticut Whale before moving to the Boston Pride where she helped the Pride capture the Isobel Cup last season! It was always an honour to know we got to see Friesen skating for the Flames before she conquered other levels of hockey!

There should be a lot of credit given to the AAA, JWHL, and CSSHL teams that play in this city because there have been a pile of future women's hockey stars who have not only suited up for these teams, but they've invited and hosted some of the best women's hockey players on the planet at games and tournaments for a long time. Combine that with the players in Canada West who have played here and visited here who have gone on to play in the PWHPA, PHF, SDHL, and other professional leagues, and we've been very blessed with the amount of women's hockey talent that have either called this province home or have visited for games.

This is why you should be clearing some time between January 26-29, 2023 when the Female World Sport School Challenge will be played again. There will be, based on the number of players and teams there, at least a handful of future women's hockey stars who will suit up at the Hockey For All Center. Like Aerin Frankel and Jule Schiefer, maybe they'll be the future of a different country's women's hockey program. Like Miswaggon and Warkentin, they could be future U SPORTS stars. Like Friesen, they could be future NCAA and professional hockey stars. The one thing that is certain, though, is there will be future stars playing there.

We're less than one month from the start of the tournament, so start clearing your schedule for the 2023 Female World Sport School Challenge. The action will be fantastic, we'll have the call on UMFM, and the talent will certainly be on display. As shown above, we've been treated to hockey by some of the best players in the women's game today, and this year's tournament will certainly add more names to that list as the future of women's hockey is on display in Winnipeg from January 26-29! Be there!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 27 December 2022

TBC: Two Minutes For Talking To Myself

By my count, there are four days left in the 2022 calendar year, and I have to say it was a fairly busy year on a number of fronts. One thing I always regret not doing more of is reading, but that seems to be how the puck bounces in my world. With a couple of days off from work thanks to the holidays, I figured I needed to use the down time to get some more reading in so let's get that documents here and now! Teebz's Book Club us proud to review Two Minutes for Talking to Myself, written by Curt Keilback and published by Friesen Press, as we dive into a former play-by-play radio announcer's look at his time with the Winnipeg Jets, the Arizona Coyotes, and being in and around the NHL for two decades! Having grown up listening to Kielback call Jets games on the radio, I figured this would be a good read about some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that went on in the Jets' world, and Two Minutes did not disappoint in that aspect as Kielback revealed a number of interesting things in his stories and experiences!

Before we get into the book's content, Curt Keilback's story should be told as he's still heralded as "the voice of the Jets" in Winnipeg. From his Friesen Press biography, "Curt Keilback is a retired NHL broadcaster. He was there when the Winnipeg Jets joined the NHL. He was around for the birth of the Coyotes franchise in Phoenix, and the rise of many great names in hockey. He was a constant around the league for twenty-seven seasons and called over 2400 games on TV and radio. His voice is synonymous with what was named the greatest goal of the 21st century, Alexander Ovechkin’s 2006 masterpiece: 'Just when it looked like it was no longer possible.' You can connect with him via email at In his spare time, you can find him on the golf course perfecting his swing. He lives in Winnipeg with his wife Linda of forty-eight years and counting." It should be noted that Keilback also had roles in Goon and Goon 2 among his credited movie appearances, and is a member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in the media category.

I'll start this review of Two Minutes by saying that the book was written in an anecdotal style of writing - that is, there are multiple stories in each section as opposed to chapters about specific moments or experiences in Keilback's life. In saying that, the stories are short, succinct, and often felt as though I was listening to Curt Keilback speak about these moments as if he were sitting in front of me. Nothing is long-winded nor is there a ton of background on the subject at hand as seen with some storytellers. Instead, you get Keilback's thoughts on everything in Two Minutes in one paragraph or, at the most, two pages.

Because of this writing style, I found Two Minutes to be very easy to read. Thanks to knowing his distinctive voice, it felt more like sitting with Keilback and listening to him tell stories about his career in hockey broadcasting as I read the words. That's not a knock on Two Minutes in any way, shape, or form; rather, I found this style of writing to feel more like Keilback's delivery on the radio when he was calling games - to the point and with purpose.

His list of topics range from his humble beginnings in Saskatchewan to finding his way into an NHL broadcast booth, working for both the Jets and Coyotes, some of the people and places he came across while with those teams, and insight on some of the lesser-known stories from the two NHL clubs and the NHL itself that people may or may not know. Some of these stories admittedly may upset the people about whom Keilback talks, but that's the risk in treating people with contempt and disrespect when they have mediums on which they can tell their stories. If you want some spicy stories, Two Minutes has a few!

One of the more mind-blowing stories that Curt Keilback reveals in Two Minutes for Talking to Myself had to do with a couple of potential trades that never materialized. He writes,
"Some of the best and wrost deals are the ones that aren't made. The Stars nearly traded Mike Modano to the Jets for Phil Housley. The Jets nearly drafted Cam Neely, then at the last moment opted for Andrew McBain. The Coyotes nearly got Joe Thornton from Boston; when they hesitated, he went to San Jose."
The opportunity to draft Cam Neely in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft is a bit of a surprise as I wasn't aware the Jets had ever wanted him, but McBain was take eighth-overall by the Jets before Neely was selected by Vancouver one selection later. The bigger story here, though, is the never-made-trade involving Housley and Modano.

In 1990-91, Phil Housley led the Jets in scoring with 76 points while Modano was fifth in North Stars' scoring with 64 points. Both players upped their totals in 1991-92 - Housley had 86 points compared to Modano's 77 points - before Housley had the best season of his career in 1992-93 when he had 97 points, but was on the verge of becoming a Group 2 free agent before being traded to St. Louis. It seems the Minnesota/Dallas Stars were kicking tires on the offensive defender and dangling the 93-point centerman in 1992-93 as the return before they opted not to make the deal. That might have been the Stars' best non-deal in history as Modano led the Stars to the 1999 Stanley Cup while Housley's game faded considerably in the same time.

That blockbuster news aside, these are the kinds of behind-the-scenes stories you'll find in Two Minutes for Talking to Myself. Keilback did a great job at making this book extremely easy to read as I tore through its 204 pages from cover to cover in one day. The stories, as stated above, are short and concise - great for moments when a few pages of reading is all you can manage - and you won't need to re-read the previous few pages to get back on track if you put the book down for a few days. Knowing Keilback's voice brought a lot of these stories to life for me and that might not be something you can rely on as a reader, but I'm quite certain you don't need his voice in your head to enjoy Two Minutes for Talking to Myself. Because of its easy-to-read style and the great stories Curt Keilback told, Two Minutes for Talking to Myself absolutely deserves the the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Two Minutes for Talking to Myself is available at most book stores and libraries, and the material contained within the covers is, as mentioned, pretty easy to read. There isn't any terrible language in Two Minutes as Keilback edited the stories to make them fan-friendly, but he does allude to a few words being said that can't be printed here. That being said, I'd say Two Minutes is geared more towards the older reader who knew Keilback's work with the Jets and Coyotes, but the information on the pages is certainly acceptable for all ages. Pick up a copy of Two Minutes for Talking to Myself for your Jets or Coyotes fan, and enjoy the stories from the voice of those two teams for two decades as Curt Keilback walks you through his experiences working in and around the Jets, Coyotes, and the NHL!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 26 December 2022

The Rundown - Monday Edition

It feels somewhat odd writing this article on a Monday, but the holiday season forced the change as I really didn't feel like writing a full examination into Canada West scoring on Christmas Day. In that regard we're here on a Monday to complete that very task as we take a look at something that I knew had been a trend for some time in the four western Canadian provinces, but not to the degree that I discovered. Needless to say, I have alluded to this fact before on numerous occasions, but let's put it into statistical form by showing the numbers that back up my alluisons today on The Rundown!

I have made reference to the importance of blue line scoring on this blog a number of times when it comes to the success of teams. As much as the adage of "defence wins championships" is used in sports today, teams still have to score to reach championship games as well and we all know that one has to score goals to win in hockey. No team has ever won a championship by a 0-0 score.

While I presented primary scoring last week to illustrate who was doing the majority of the scoring in the conference, it became pretty clear that the top-two teams in the conference - UBC and Mount Royal - benefitted greatly from having defenders who regularly hit the scoresheet as both Hannah Koroll and Sophia Gaskell were doing great things for UBC's offence while both Emma Bergesen and Mackenzie Butz were in on MRU's offence often. It should come as no surprise that both teams are competing for top spot in the conference with the teams tied at 1-1 this season in their series.

Before we get to the trend found, let's review who has competed for the Canada West banner in recent years. We'll use this information in our findings in the next couple of sections.

The Finals

  • 2022: UBC defeated Saskatchewan 2-0.
  • 2020: Alberta defeated Mount Royal 2-0.
  • 2019: Alberta defeated Manitoba 2-0.
  • 2018: Manitoba defeated Saskatchewan 2-0.
  • 2017: UBC defeated Alberta 2-1.
  • 2016: UBC defeated Manitoba 2-1.
  • 2015: Alberta defeated Manitoba 2-0.
As you can see, three different teams have won the Canada West title in the past seven finals while five teams have participated.

Who Finished Where?

Over those same seasons, here's how the two finalists finished in the season standings. Records are W-L-ETW-ETL except 2021-22 where wins and extra-time wins were made equal in points awarded.
  • 2022: UBC (2nd/14-6-0) def. Saskatchewan (5th/11-7-2).
  • 2020: Alberta (1st/19-8-1-0) def. Mount Royal (4th/12-4-2-0).
  • 2019: Alberta (1st/19-5-4-0) def. Manitoba (2nd/16-5-4-2).
  • 2018: Manitoba (1st/19-5-3-1) def. Sask. (2nd/18-7-1-2).
  • 2017: UBC (1st/20-4-3-1) def. Alberta (2nd/17-4-4-3).
  • 2016: UBC (2nd/13-9-3-3) def. Manitoba (5th/13-13-0-2).
  • 2015: Alberta (1st/19-7-1-1) def. Manitoba (3rd/14-7-9-2).
Just for the record, there hasn't been an upset in a Canada West Final since 2012-13 when UBC defeated Calgary. The higher seed has won each and every time since then, so the underdog in 2022-23 will face huge odds for whomever makes the final.

Blue Line Scoring

This is where things should become obvious in terms of the correlation between team success and defender scoring when you see the next numbers posted. I know at least one Canada West coach disagrees with me in the importance of breakouts and defender scoring by having those defenders jump up into the play, but we're seeing more and more defenders in the highest hockey leagues become lethal scorers as coaches look to push offence. Frankly, it's shocking a coach at the Canada West level would disagree with how hockey is trending, but that team is listed below as one of the teams who led the conference in scoring from its defenders.
  • 2022: UBC led with 17 goals and 65 points.
  • 2020: Alberta was 3rd in goals (7), but led in points (50).
  • 2019: Manitoba was 2nd in goals (14), but led in points (59).
  • 2018: Manitoba led with 16 goals and 47 points.
  • 2017: UBC led with 16 goals and 73 points.
  • 2016: Saskatchewan led, but UBC was 2nd in points with 45.
  • 2015: UBC led, but Manitoba was 2nd in points with 52.
As shown above, the team that led in scoring from the blue line was one of the two teams to play in the Canada West Final in each of those years. In both 2015 and 2016, the team that led didn't reach the final, but the team that was second in defender scoring did. If you're doing the math, teams that led in defender scoring over the last five seasons in Canada West have gone to Nationals five times, have finished first or second in the conference five times to earn a first-round bye in the playoffs, and have won the Canada West banner four out of five years.

You can't tell me that every Canada West coach and program wouldn't want those odds every season. If there was a 100% of going to Nationals, a 100% chance of earning a first-round bye, and an 80% chance of winning the Canada West banner, every coach would jump at that chance. Even as the trend was developing in 2015 and 2016, it was clear that getting that extra scoring punch from the blue line helped the overall success of the team.

Just for fun, here's how each of the teams have fared in the seasons shown above. Stats are listed by goals/points by defenders as a team. Stats in yellow are Canada West champions for that season while Canada West runner-ups are in red for easier comparisons.

Blue Line Scoring
Team 22-23 2022 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
7/50 8/40 9/47 8/39 7/39
7/37 4/23 6/21 9/30 9/38
6/30 3/19 0/16 8/26 7/36
-- -- -- -- --
5/21 14/59 16/47 17/67 9/22
Mount Royal
8/31 8/31 2/20 9/30 5/28
8/33 11/36 6/21 3/37 9/48
9/34 16/39 11/24 6/25 9/48
-- -- -- -- --
11/37 14/45 8/36 16/73 6/45

What Does This Mean?

Based on scoring this season alone, it would appear that one, if not two, of UBC, Mount Royal, and Alberta will compete for the Canada West banner. Mount Royal does have more goals than Alberta from their defenders, so primary scoring factors in here because players that either finish plays or setup goals will undoubtedly do that more often than players who don't. In saying that, don't be surprised if we see a UBC-Mount Royal final this season unless one team below them gets ridiculously hot.

What shouldn't be taken from the table above is a lack of scoring by any team's defenders. Saskatchewan went to Nationals and won a bronze medal last season despite getting just 22 points from its collective group of defenders in Canada West play, and Calgary currently holds a playoff spot despite having the lowest-scoring defenders this season. Winning is harder when you don't get depth scoring, and that's what defender scoring is - depth scoring behind a team's primary offensive weapons.

In saying that, Calgary can make the playoffs this season, but winning the whole thing? That's a different conversation altogether.

Anything Else?

It would appear that Canada West coaches fall into the same problems that NHL coaches do when looking at defenders in that coaches who recruit players are often doing it for their offensive potential only to limit that potential by forcing those defenders to play more defensively at the Canada West level. I'm not saying this happens with every player and each teams' situations are different from one another, but Canada West teams emphasize defence more than they push offence from their blue lines.

Only three times since 2015-16 has a defender recorded 20 points in a season - Julia Flinton had 26 points in 2015-16 for Saskatchewan while Cayle Dillon has 21 in 2019-20 for Alberta and Rylind MacKinnon had 21 last season. 2012-13 was the last time this conference had two defenders with more than 20 points in the same season - Manitoba's Kyleigh Palmer and Calgary's Stephanie Ramsey had 25 apiece.

Will this ever change? It may this season as UBC's Hannah Koroll needs just four points over UBC's final ten games to hit 20 points while Mount Royal's Emma Bergesen needs six in ten games. Both players are also leading the way in primary scoring for defenders, so there seems to be a good chance that both players could hit that mark this season with them playing on the top two offensive teams in the conference.

The Last Word

I often wonder what coaches look at when they're recruiting players to play for their programs. I know some teams take a look at video and sit down with stats to pour over the analytics, but it would seem that the best offensive defenders skate well, carry the puck a lot, and find both shooting and passing lanes. If we're talking about keywords, that would be footwork, puck possession, and vision.

I get that making the jump from AAA or prep hockey requires a renewed look at how the defensive game is played thanks to women being faster, bigger, and stronger, but stifling the offensive skills to prevent a few goals seems antithetical to what every coach claims to be seeking in scoring and offensive production.

Good offensive defenders will find a way to merge an offensive flair with a coach's defensive system, but it make take a few mistakes for players to learn how and when to jump into plays without giving up defensive zone real estate. We've seen both Hannah Koroll and Emma Bergesen develop over the course of two or three seasons into the forces they are today for UBC and Mount Royal, respectively, and they're showing that they can be factors in any game at both ends of the ice. Teammates are following that same development path as well with names like Sophia Gaskell, Mackenzie Butz, Kennesha Miswaggon, and Alex Spence all showing moments of brilliance this season.

Should we really be surprised that their teams are currently atop the Canada West standings? My answer is no based on both the eye test, the statistics in the table above, and the overall trend seen in Canada West women's hockey over the last number of seasons.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 25 December 2022

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, folks! I hope your Christmas Day is going well if you celebrate the holiday, and, if you're not celebrating, I hope you're having a wonderful day as well! Whatever your day is today, I am fascinated by these Christmas lights that one can control with one's phone to make all sorts of designs and colours on a tree. How cool would this be when it comes to trees in offices and corporate settings? I will say that, in looking into these lights, a string of 600 LED lights costs $300 so they're less than economical for most people, but I still think they're cool. I didn't get these for Christmas, but they may be a purchase at some point.

First off, I hope you're spending as much time with loved ones today as humanly possible. Some people didn't make it home today thanks to the weather, so be grateful you have this time with family and friends. These are the people who you've speant most of your life with - the good times, the not-so-good times, the laughs, the tears, and everything in between - and they should be both celebrated and appreciated with your time spent with them. Family, no matter what form it takes, means the world to everyone.

Whatever gifts you received today from your loved ones, show gratitude and appreciation for them having put time, effort, and monies into acquire said gifts for you. Many people don't receive anything today for one reason or another, so be grateful of this time, effort, and appreciation they have for you and show appreciation for any gifts you may receive, no matter the cost, size, or rarity of the gift. Receiving a gift means you mean something to that person or those people who gave it, and that in itself is a gift we need to appreciate more.

If there is a gathering, there likely will be food and drink in which everyone will indulge. By all means, enjoy the delicious food and drink, but, again, be grateful that you're able to partake in the minor feast. Like gifts, many people will go with less food or without food for a number of reasons today, so be grateful that you're able to enjoy the delectable delights that this season brings. If you're enjoy a spirited beverage, please be responsible and enjoy in moderation with plenty of water between beverages. The last thing anyone wants is tragedy on this day, so be safe.

With that, I'm leaving the screen and keyboard for more family time, more food and drink, and some rest and relaxation after a busy few weeks. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season always seems to wear me out, so having a little down time from work where I can spend time with those I care about is always the best time.

After the festivities end and I make my way back to HBIC Headquarters, I'll make sure to spend a little time with this furball. Pets are important parts of families, and I can't tell you how many times Meg has made me laugh or helped me to relieve a little stress just by being there. She drives me nuts sometimes, but which family member hasn't done that at some point in your life? Don't forget your pets on this day, especially with it being so cold in most parts of the country right now. You may not realize it, but pets are important parts to families that are able to have them.

Whether you use the word "family" or "famille" or "familie" or "família" or "familj" or "сім'я" or "perhe" or any other translation of the word, make no mistake that the most important element in any gathering is family. Here's hoping your family had an incredible day laughing, eating, drinking, and celebrating the holiday and one another.

Until next time, Merry Christmas!

Saturday 24 December 2022

'Tis Christmas Eve!

If you had been listening to The Hockey Show on Thursday and you caught the intro and the outro, you have heard John Malkovich's distinctive voice. I have to admit that I'm a fan of John Malkovich's acting, and there are a number of movies in which he stars that I can watch again and again such as Burn After Reading, Red, and Rounders. The breadth of his acting roles has seen him in action films, dramas, and comedies all with great success, but it's his monologue on Saturday Night Live in 2008 that cracks me up every time I see or hear it.

Being that it is the night before Christmas, it feels only right to post that monologue here on HBIC where John Malkovich reads the Clement Clarke Moore poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. I hope you enjoy this clip from the sketch comedy show as much as I do!
Honestly, his asides delivered straight-faced make it even funnier than just hearing it, and this is why I appreciate Malkovich's deadpan delivery in reading this famous poem. It's comedy at its finest, and I watch this every Christmas Eve just for a laugh.

Let's leave the religious aspects out of the equation, and focus on spending time with family and friends who make our lives so incredibly rich. The Christian holiday should be seen as a celebration of all those things important to us, and getting to spend some quality time with the ones you love and cherish is far more important than the trees, the gifts, the lights, and the commercial aspects of this season. For those that are religious, practice accordingly.

For those not partaking in this holiday, this weekend would still be a good time to connect and/or reconnect with those who are most important to you. Have dinners, spend time with one another, toast good health and long lifetimes, and make it clear how impotant these people are to you.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, folks. My day starts early, so I'll get back online sometime during the day to post something. I doubt it will be hockey-related since there's very little hockey happening tomorrow, but HBIC will check-in tomorrow at some point. Be merry, be safe, and we'll see you then!

Until next time, Merry Christmas!

Friday 23 December 2022

An Incomplete Look

I came home on Thursday night after doing The Hockey Show and did what I normally do: turned on a hockey game. There were a number of games going on that I could have chosen as the game to focus on, but I went with Florida Panthers visiting the New York Islanders because they're two teams I hardly ever see broadcast in my part of the Great White North. The Panthers were wearing their normal road uniforms, but the Islanders went with their 2022 Reverse Retro jerseys as seen to the left, and I have to say that their look left me feeling disappointed once again. I already made it clear in my review of the Islanders Reverse Retro jerseys that this was a fail, but seeing them in action only disappointed me further.

Let's start with the obvious comparison of new versus old.
The new uniforms almost have a monochromatic feel to them with everything being navy blue. Yes, the stripes do break it up slightly, but there's not enough contrast to really eliminate the overall dark colour of the uniform. As you can see on Mathieu Schneider on the right, the wave stripe that extends up on the hip combined with the added teal colour really provide the contrast needed on a dark jersey like this one, but the wave stripe may not have been necessary if the Islanders simply went teal at the bottom of the jersey.

The other thing that bothered me were the names and numbers.
As you can see on the left, they tried. Not very hard, mind you, but they tried. The bottom of the five slightly follows the same distorted number alignment as the original jersey on the right, but not very well. Sebastian Aho has all that space below the number where the Islanders could have distorted the numbers a little more, yet they opted to keep them almost square on the backs of players. Is it close? Sure. Is it close enough for me to appreciate it? No. Not close.

The second thing is the font used by the Islanders which doesn't resemble anything close to the original font used and, in some cases, makes the names harder to read if you're further away than rinkside glass. I will say that the 1995-97 font could be a little thicker or bolder in its typeface, but it's simply easier to read thanks to the spacing of the letters. The new jerseys need a better font.

I can tell you that, as a fan of the Fisherman jerseys, the new Reverse Retro jersey is not on my Christmas list. I didn't like them when they were introduced, and I like them less now that I've seen them in action. I take nothing away from the results the Islanders got last night as they defeated the Panthers 5-1 in their game, but I'm glad they'll only wear these uniforms for twelve games.

You don't need to remind me that these aren't exact replicas. I understand that fact clearly, but the Islanders and Adidas could have gotten a wee bit closer with the features they opted to use. If the Islanders are going to go Fisherman with their look, they should get closer than something that looks like a cheap knock-off one would find on a beer league team.

I don't gamble on hockey, but it's a safe bet there won't be any Fishermen merchandise under my tree this Christmas.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 22 December 2022

The Hockey Show - Episode 535

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns tonight with Jason's last show of 2022 as he'll be taking a holiday over the holidays. To accommodate that, we'll have some fun with Jason tonight as he gives us his favorite Christmas tunes as we chat some hockey. There's actually a pretty big announcement about next week's show hidden in the hour, so you'll want to tune in to catch that as well as Jason and I discuss international hockey when he's not giving us song titles!

Tonight, we find out what five songs make up Jason's Top Five Christmas Songs in the same fashion that we did with Jenna last season. This is always good for a laugh as we have serious discussions about a fun topic, so don't take this too seriously. We'll also chat about the players from U SPORTS heading to Lake Placid for the 2023 FISU World University Games to represent Canada in hockey, we'll chat some Spengler Cup, touch on the World Junior Championship, and squeeze whatever else we can into the hour. It's a fun show with a big announcement tonight on The Hockey Show at 5:30pm CT so join us on one of 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via!

If you live outside Winnipeg and want to listen, we have options! 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! 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 Jason discuss Jason's favorite seasonal tunes, FISU players, Spengler teams, World Junior interests, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the web stream!

PODCAST: December 22, 2022: Episode 535

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 21 December 2022

One Of A Kind Trade

How many NHL players come to mind who have played for three NHL teams that relocated? Not many come to mind for me, but one of the guys is the man to the left in Tom Martin. Martin played 92 games for the Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota North Stars, and the Hartford Whalers between 1984 and 1990 as one of the very few men who accomplished this feat. While that accomplishment is impressive on its own, that's not why we're talking about Tom Martin today, and this article won't even have anything to do with his NHL career. Instead, we're going to learn of a trade he was part of while playing in the WHL that likely will never be seen again simply due to what was involved in said trade! Buckle up because this story is crazy!

I was actually researching something else when I came across the newspaper clipping to the right that was posted by a Twitter account called the "Victoria Cougars Hockey Project". Full marks to the writer(s) of that account because I had never heard this story before seeing this newspaper article, but it seems that the information written in it not only happened, but has become a bit of folklore in the hockey world. The headline in the image may give away more than I wanted it to, but this story today involves a bus trade - something that will likely never be seen again.

According to this article written by Evan Weiner of,
"On January 19, 1983, the Western Hockey League's Seattle Breakers dealt Martin to Victoria for a used bus and future considerations. Martin never played for the Breakers and decided to give the University of Denver a try instead. The left wing had played for the Kelowna Buckaroos of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League in 1980-81 and 1981-82 and ended up on the Breakers' reserve list. Martin decided he wanted to play hockey and get a college education at the same time so it was unlikely he would ever perform for Seattle. Breakers management was looking for a deal to get something of value for an asset it would never use.

"Seattle was also looking for a team bus, and Victoria had an extra one. The Cougars management bought the vehicle after the WHL's Spokane Flyers suspended operations after 26 games in the 1981-82 season, but the Cougars could not use the bus that was sitting in Spokane because team management did not want to pay the taxes and duties to register the vehicle in Canada.

"Each side got something they needed for unusable parts. Martin, a Victoria native, would play in Victoria in 1983-84, and Seattle got new wheels. Seattle needed the bus after its bus blew its engine on a trip to Kelowna".
How wild is that? Both teams moved pieces that were otherwise unusable to them - Martin never played for Seattle while Victoria never went to pick up the bus - and both teams got something in return that they could use. Martin, for the record, played 60 games for Victoria in 1983-84, scoring 30 goals and 45 assists after leaving the University of Denver where he played for one season. The bus, meanwhile, moved Seattle players around western Canada and northwestern US states.

When I first read about this story, I could have been convinced that this was a subplot in a movie like Slap Shot. Weiner spoke to Martin, though, who confirmed the entire thing, saying, "I was at the library that night, it was in the middle of the week and the season was going pretty good there in Denver. But I wanted to go back and play junior the next year. The team that had my rights, Seattle, they could not offer me any education. So I asked to be traded.

"You know Kevin (Dineen) was there, he was with me, we didn't think that much of it at first," he continued. "You know, I went to bed that night but the next morning, the phone started going crazy and it ended up being a bigger thing than I thought and I got a lot of media at the time, phone calls from all the papers around the county and a few TV things. It was a pretty funny thing, I guess."

According to the article in the Lethbridge Herald on January 15, 1983 to the left, Seattle Breakers owner John Hamilton called the trade in acquiring the bus from Victoria, "It might have been the best deal I ever made." While being entirely disrespectful to Martin's abilities in his comments, those words from Hamilton may have been eclipsed in 1985 when the Breakers were sold to new owners and renamed as the Thunderbirds. Whatever his point was in making the off-the-cuff remark, the Breakers had been operating without a team bus for approximately one month after it died in Kelowna, so Hamilton dealt Martin's rights to Victoria for a bus they simply couldn't afford to bring home.

"It was a natural," Hamilton told the newspaper. "Our old bus blew its engine on a road trip to Kelowna last month. Victoria had a bus they couldn't use and we had a player we couldn't use. Bingo."

Despite Hamilton's comments, it seems that Martin is taking this trade in stride as people look back on it. When asked about the bus for whom he was traded, Martin told Weiner, "Well, it was used, but it was a fairly recently used. It was a fairly new bus."

"I know it had bunks on it and it was definitely a team oriented bus. In the Western Hockey League they travel a lot and they need a good bus. Maybe it had better wheels than I did."

I doubt the bus ever got a shot playing under the bright lights in NHL arenas, though, and Tom "Bussey" Martin should be remembered for that. His 12 goals, 11 assists, and 249 penalty minutes all were better than the miles counted by the bus in the WHL. Martin was also a first team AHL All-Star in 1988 with the Binghamton Whalers as well in a season where he scored 28 goals and 61 assists in 71 games, so it's pretty clear that his hockey skills were pretty solid!

The moral of this story? The next time you hear about GMs "kicking tires" on trades, remember Tom Martin. He is, to date, the only player in hockey history that I know of that has been traded to a team that literally was kicking tires on a bus they needed.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 20 December 2022

Another Blades-To-Wheels Story?

I was doing some reading tonight to get to know some of the players heading to the 2023 FISU Universiade Games in Lake Placid, and one of the women who is representing Canada in hockey is Queen's Gaels forward Scout Watkins Southward. Watkins Southward is tied for eighth in OUA scoring with nine points, slightly behind teammates Rebecca Thompson and Quinn Johnston who have 11 points apiece. The fourth-year forward is an alternate captain with Queen's and has always been regarded as one of the hardest-working players on the Gaels' roster, but it seems that this athlete may be looking at other options when her university career comes to a close that we've already seen one hockey player follow.

I've written a couple of articles about former University of Manitoba and MoDo defender Erica Rieder as she moved from hockey to cycling. Erica's dream was to represent Canada at the Olympics, and she felt that she had taken the hockey dream as far as she could. That led to her jumping into the cycling world, and she was recently awarded funding and support through the RBC Training Ground to continue her development as she aims for the track in 2024.

What draws the two together is that Erica Rieder played for Canada at the 2017 FISU Universiade Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan when she was still attending university while Scout Watkins Southward will head to Lake Placid in January to represent Canada. There is another tie, however, and it's one that I discovered while doing some reading on Watkins Southward.

While she may be playing hockey for Queen's in the winter, Watkins Southward joined the RBC Training Ground in 2021 as a cyclist as she pursues her dreams of reaching the Olympics as well! At the time of the linked article's publication by Ian MacAlpine in The Whig, "Watkins Southward said she'll be training to become a cyclist but wants to finish her career with the Gaels before changing sports.

"She is early in the training ground process and eventually will be invited to a track to meet with coaches and see how she feels on a bike, along with doing some more basic sport testing."

According to the reporting done by MacAlpine, the pandemic's disruption to Watkins Southward's training regiment in the offseason in the summer of 2021 pushed her into getting into the RBC Training Ground.

"It made sense. It can't hurt to give it a go," she told MacAlpine. "We'll see how this goes and where it goes."

While it's still very early in the process for Watkins Southward, she was contacted by Cycling Canada after running through the first series of tests in 2021. It's likely there's a very remote chance that we could see Watkins Southward cycling for Canada in 2024, but 2028 or 2032 seems more realistic if she decides to put as much effort into cycling as she is for hockey and for her training. For now, though, it seems hockey is giving her chance to travel and show her skills on the ice!

"I would love this opportunity," she told MacAlpine in 2021 of potentially making Team Canada's cycling team in 2024. "Of course, it's an opportunity of a lifetime and I would be extremely excited and thankful for it, but I'm going try to finish my years here at Queen's with hockey and see if I can balance the two. If that's not possible, then it's definitely a decision I will have to make, but at this point in time I'm not seeing myself giving up hockey and I'm still hoping to keep on with this."

I'm quite glad she didn't give up on hockey just yet as she will be one of the women trying to capture gold in Lake Placid at the 2023 FISU Universiade Games. No one is expecting it to be easy as Canada's never finished with a medal other than silver or gold, so the squad with the maple leaves on their chests will enter the tournament with a target likely painted on their backs. Canada can use the hard work and effort put in by Scout Watkins Southward in trying to capture a medal in January's tournament.

While Erica earned a silver medal in Almaty in 2017, she too gave a heckuvan effort in helping Canada finish second in that tournament. Erica, of course, went on to win a U SPORTS National Championship in 2018 and captain the University of Manitoba's women's team in 2019 before joining MoDo of the SDHL where she had a few outstanding seasons playing on their blue line.

Comparatively, Watkins Southward is aiming for gold in Lake Placid, is trying to get Queen's to the same U SPORTS accolades that Rieder reached, and may perhaps seek professional hockey success like Erica did, but the dream of representing Canada at the Olympics is a dream they both share and are currently pursuing.

Follow your dreams, kids. Who knows where they'll take you!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 19 December 2022

Former OUA Goalie Goal

The man to the left is goaltender François Brassard who starred for the OUA's Carelton Ravens at one point in his career. He's had quite the career since leaving the QMJHL's Gatineau Olympiques in 2015 after playing for both the Quebec Remparts and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles over four seasons, but we're here to talk about what he did Sunday night more than we are about his hockey history. However, HBIC doesn't gloss over that history, so we're going to look at it now as it includes three seasons of OUA hockey with the Carleton Ravens men's hockey program. Did that factor into last night's moment? It's hard to say yes based on the length of time since Brassard played in the OUA, but it's part of his journey so let's walk that path and get to know François Brassard!

Brassard had a solid 2011-12 season with the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts where he posted a 20-10-3 record with a 2.80 GAA and a .905 save percentage which brought a few scouts to the rink in Quebec City. While he wasn't taken on the first day of the draft, François Brassard heard his name called in the sixth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at 166th-overall by the Ottawa Senators in the same draft where the Oilers selected Nail Yakupov first-overall. He wouldn't appear in the NHL, but he can claim that he had his name called at the NHL Entry Draft!

Brassard would put up good numbers with Quebec over three seasons, compiling an 81-40-16 record before the Remparts made the decision to deal the 20 year-old netminder to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. In what may have been a bit of foreshadowing, Brassard actually scored a goal against the Remparts in a 7-5 victory on December 13, 2014 in a season where more things went wrong than right as he posted a 6-13-3 record.

With things going poorly in Cape Breton, he'd be released by the Screaming Eagles in April 2014, but landed with the Gatineau Olympiques as their starting netminder was felled by injuries! Brassard would finish his season on a different level as he compiled a 13-4-2 record with a 2.52 GAA and a .907 save percentage with Gatineau, helping the Olympiques to the playoffs before falling to the eventual QMJHL champions in the Rimouski Oceanic in the second round of the playoffs.

The 2015-16 season saw Brassard sign with the SPHL's Peoria Rivermen where he saw action in just five games, posting a 2-2-0 record with a 2.33 GAA and a .903 save percentage. While Kyle Rank and David Jacobsen had slightly better stats than Brassard, I'm a little shocked they didn't opt to keep Brassard around when it came to developing another goaltender.

Brassard decided to come back to the Ottawa area and join the OUA's Carleton Ravens where he was a solid netminder in the Ontario-Quebec university circuit. In three seasons with the Ravens, Brassard put up a 39-26-0 rcord while never posting a GAA higher than 2.87 and never having a save percentage lower than .905 as he captured "Goaltender of the Year" honours in the OUA East Division in his final season with the Ravens.

Those successful three seasons led to four seasons in the ECHL previous to this one where Brassard played two seasons with the Maine Mariners, a second with the Wheeling Nailers, and a season with the Jacksonville Icemen where he was named as the 2021-22 Nick Vitucci Goaltender of the Year Award winner after going 19-9-3 and leading the ECHL with a 2.19 goals-against average! After signing with Hartford for the 2021-22 season before being assigned to Jacksonville, Brassard won his AHL debut with the Hartford Wolfpack in 2021-22 as he helped the Wolfpack defeat the Bridgeport Islanders 3-2 on December 30, 2021 after stopping 31 shots!

That journey led to Brassard signing with Providence this summer who assigned him to the ECHL's Maine Mariners. Brassard entered last night's game against the Adirondack Thunder with a 3-5-0 where his numbers have been good, but he needed some support in the form of goals. And that's where we pick this story up with Brassard helping himself on Sunday night with Maine up 4-2 late in the game!
François Brassard's second goal in his goaltending career comes with 20 seconds to play to make it a 5-2 game in favour of Maine, and his 22 saves were good enough for the victory to move the Mariners into fourth-place in the ECHL's North Division!

The list of ECHL goalies who have been credited with a goal grows!
  • Francois Brassard (MAI) at Adirondack - December 18, 2022
  • CJ Motte (QCM) at Fort Wayne - December 9, 2017
  • Alex Nedeljkovic (FLA) at Atlanta - December 30, 2016
  • Brian Foster (CIN) vs Trenton - February 15, 2013
  • Timo Pielmeier (BAK) at Utah - December 19, 2009
  • Jonathan Quick, (REA) at Pensacola - October 24, 2007
  • Trevor Koenig (ACB) at Wheeling - March 2, 2005
  • Brian Eklund (PEN) at Mississippi - December 5, 2003
  • Mike Smith (LEX) vs Dayton - October 26, 2002
  • Mark Bernard (TOL) vs Johnstown - March 27, 2001
  • Nick Vitucci (CHA) vs Louisville - March 6, 1996
  • Sean Gauthier (SCS) at Raleigh - December 19, 1995
  • Olie Sundstrom (ERI) vs Wheeling - December 15, 1995
  • Corwin Saurdiff (HRA) vs Charlotte - March 18, 1995
As you can see from the list above, there are no goalie goals that have been scored in November while March and December seem to have all the fun. Whatever the reasons are for that trend, François Brassard added his name to the list of ECHL goalies who have been credited with a goal, and it's pretty awesome to see a former OUA netminder on the list!

Congratulations to François Brassard on his first ECHL goal and for earning the win last night!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 18 December 2022

The Rundown - Primary Scoring

There are many factors that go into winning games as you're likely aware, but the one factor that rises above all else is the ability to score goals. Scoring goals with any regularity at any level takes some talent, but it also needs to be sustainable and consistent for coaches to continue putting those players on the ice when a goal is needed. This is where knowing who your primary scoring threats are - those who either score goals or setup goals or do both well. If a goal is needed, it's likely a coach would turn to his best scorers and let them skate, but it seems some coaches either don't optimize lines nor give primary scorers the linemates one needs to be successful. Today, we'll pull the curtain back on who is doing the bulk of the scoring in Canada West on a regular basis.

Primary points - goals plus primary assists - include two of the main skills that teams need from players in order to win. Goals are pretty self-evident as no team has ever won a game tied 0-0, and not scoring enough goals on a per-game basis usually results in losses in games. You have to score goals to win, so goal-scoring talent is something all coaches want in players.

Primary assists are more of a contentious issue since some will argue that all assists are important when it comes to winning. Let me state a very obvious point: assists do not exist without goals, so you need goals to be scored to record assists of any kind. Primary assists, though, are seen as a "repeatable skill" in that good playmaking players will see opportunities to set up teammates for goals more than, say, a player who simply dishes a puck off to the winger on the half-boards.

As I stated last season, I'm not here to debate the significance of secondary assists. Primary assists are seen as part of the primary points category because playmaking skills should persist from year to year for players if they are setting up goals directly. There could be an element of luck to this, but the statistic is seen as a player recognizing an opportunity more than it is getting a lucky rebound to bounce to an open teammate. Good players see shooting and passing lanes to make those types of plays happen.

Broad Street Hockey defined all this in a solid write-up with data where they stated, "Someone who sets up a lot of goals this year probably has vision and puck control skills that make him likely to do so again next year". I tend to agree with this assessment, so primary points - goals plus primary assists - give us a better idea of who is doing all the scoring in Canada West more accurately.

Let's see who is driving scoring in the 2022 part of the 2022-23 Canada West season.

Top Scorers
Name Team Points Name Team PrPoints
T. Amy
T. Amy MRU 18
A. Jomha
E. Lang CAL 16
C. Bassi
C. Kollman MRU 14
A. Potomak
A. Jomha MRU 14
E. Lang
B. Anderson TWU 14
M. Willan
M. Willan ALB 14
C. Kollman
A. Potomak TWU 13
H. Koroll
H. Koroll UBC 12
B. Anderson
C. Bassi UBC 12
E. Bergesen
A. Borrow CAL 12

The total on the left is the current scoring race while the total on the right is the primary points scoring, and it's clear these women are driving the offence for their teams. Most of the top scorers are also the top primary point producers which shouldn't surprise anyone, but I should note the players who moved up and moved down. There are explanations for both, but these are the women who either setup goals or score goals with regularity in Canada West.

If we wanted to break this down further, let's take a look at whose names are generally listed for primary assists the most. That would mean they're setting players up for good looks at the net which are usually turned into goals.

The Playmakers
Name Team Assists Name Team PrAssists
T. Amy
T. Amy MRU 12
H. Koroll
H. Koroll UBC 9
A. Jomha
E. Lang CAL 8
C. Bassi
M. Willan ALB 8
E. Bergensen
E. Bergesen MRU 7
M. Willan
T. Wilkinson SAS 7
T. Anker
C. Bassi TWU 7
E. Lang
A. Jomha UBC 7

The total on the left is the assists leaders from this season's scoring while the right is who leads in primary assists. Again, there should be no surprise that the woman who leads the conference in assists also has the most primary assists as Tatam Amy is having a great campaign. However, when the second-most primary assists belongs to a UBC defender, that suggests that a lot of UBC's offence is generated by Hannah Koroll. The same could be said for Emma Bergesen at Mount Royal, and keep an eye on Taylor Wilkinson out in Saskatchewan as she's showing all sorts of play-making abilities.

Of course, playmakers need finishers, so who is doing all the goal scoring? TWU's Amy Potomak leads the way with 11 goals while UBC rookie Cassidy Rhodes has ten goals this season as the only players in double-digits. Needless to say, Potomak's primary points total is boosted by her ability to finish, but Rhodes is a Cy Young candidate as she has ten goals, but no primary assists on the season yet.

Beyond those two, MRU's Courtney Kollman and Calgary's Alli Borrow sit tied for third in goals with nine apiece, and hot on their heels is the trio of Calgary's Elizabeth Lang, Alberta's Payton Laumbach, and Trinity Western's Brooklyn Anderson who all have eight goals each. If you're looking for trends, I have one that jumps out immediately in that all four of the teams on which these players mentioned above play have no less than 42 goals on the season, and all four teams are currently in a playoff spot.

It should be noted that these numbers favour forwards in terms of playmaking, but let's not forget that defenders drive the play up the ice with solid breakouts and zone entries at times. In saying that, let's take a quick peek at the top defenders for primary points.

The Defenders
Name Team Points Name Team PrPoints
H. Koroll
H. Koroll UBC 12
E. Bergesen
E. Bergesen MRU 9
T. Kezama
S. Gaskell UBC 9
T. Anker
T. Kezama ALB 8
S. Gaskell
C. Debusschere TWU 7
K. Zuchotzki
K. Zuchotzki SAS 7
H. Pennell
M. Butz MRU 7

Again, the total on the left is the defender points leaders from this season while the right is who leads in primary defender points. It's not hard to see why UBC and MRU may be leading the conference in goals and points, but it's also quite noticeable that the five teams represented on the primary points list are all sitting with 20-or-more points and are comfortably in a playoff spot right now. You can argue with me until you're blue in the face if you like, but defender scoring is directly correlated with team success.

And as surprising as this was to me, let's throw out a little credit to UBC's Elise Hugens who is the only netminder in the last couple of seasons to record a primary assist. Goalies rarely get credit for the primary assist due to the distance they play from the opposition's net, but Elise picked up the lone assist on Rylind MacKinnon's second-period goal on Thursday, November 10 in a 3-2 overtime loss against the Spartans. More goalie points like Hugens' assist would be fun, I admit, but goalies are on the ice to prevent assists, not add them.

How about the kids? Here are the rookie scoring leaders.

The Rookies
Name Team Points Name Team PrPoints
C. Rhodes
C. Rhodes UBC 10
T. Wilkinson
T. Wilkinson SAS 10
S. Mercier
S. Mercier CAL 7
J. Fleming
J. Fleming UBC 5
S. Kazeil
S. Zuck CAL 4
A. Metzger
A Metzger MRU 4

Not much variation between the leading scorers and the leading primary points scorers, but I should note a couple of things. Cassidy Rhodes' goal-scoring prowess has her at the top of the list as she has zero primary assists. The same can be said for Mount Royal's Ava Metzger as she has yet to register a primary assist this season.

If we're just looking at playmakers, Taylor Wilkinson leads the way with seven helpers while Sydney Mercier has four assists to her name. They lead the way in terms of making passes which result in goals, but this list literally will give us a good idea who potentially could drive the offences of these teams for the next few years. Last season, Aliya Jomha was second in rookie scoring and primary points scoring for freshmen, and she's second in points and tied for third in primary points this season. Keep an eye on these players!

I'm also going to break this down by team to give you a more detailed look at who is scoring for each team. Players who are tied in points will be ranked according to the primary assists. I'll have some commentary after the team stats are posted.

Madison Willan - 14
Payton Laumbach - 11
Cassidy Maplethorpe - 10

Elizabeth Lang - 16
Alli Borrow - 12
Sydney Mercier - 7

Allee Isley - 4
Makenna Schuttler - 4
Sydney Olsen - 3

Kate Gregoire - 11
Sarah Dennehy - 6
Julia Bird - 6

Tatum Amy - 18
Aliya Jomha - 14
Courtney Kollman - 14

Paige Hubbard - 6
Olivia Leggett - 5
Jenna Merk - 5

Taylor Wilkinson - 10
Kennedy Brown - 9
Kendra Zuchotzki - 7

Brooklyn Anderson - 14
Amy Potomak - 13
Olivia Leier - 8

Hannah Koroll - 12
Chanreet Bassi - 12
Cassidy Rhodes - 10

You're likely doing well in the standings if your team has at least a couple of players in double-digit primary points scoring. Every single playoff team has at least two players who have more than ten primary points with the exception of one: Saskatchewan. The catch with the Huskies, though, is that they are tied for the second-fewest goals allowed this season. It would serve them greatly to start scoring a little more if they hope to return to Nationals this season, but I'll leave that up to head coach Steve Kook and his staff to implement.

Those Who Need More

The three non-playoff teams at the moment simply aren't getting the consistency they need to be dangerous. However, let's not forget that the purpose of identifying primary points scorers is to identify those who consistently score compared to players who may find themselves in an ideal situation. It may also point out shortcomings in coaching decisions when it comes to line combinations or systems. That's a larger discussion, but points matter and three teams simply aren't seeing season-to-season scoring consistency.

The only player from the Fluffy Cows, MacEwan, and Regina who appeared last season and this season is Kate Gregoire, and there was never any doubt when it comes to her ability to score goals. The Fluffy Cows been without the services of Halle Edwards for most of the season, so that may explain some of the missing offence. MacEwan still hasn't fixed their scoring problem from last season, so there's not a lot one can do there unless something changes systemically. Two of three Regina Cougars who led last season are gone, and Ireland Sorestad hasn't had the best start to the season.

Unless a number of players step up in the second-half of the season for these three teams, getting back into the playoff picture will get harder and harder with every game. Scoring by committee is great, but it also means that everyone has to score consistently. Otherwise, there may be long periods of time where only one or two players find the back of the net, and that's not playoff hockey in any league.

The Middle Of The Pack

I feel fairly confident that both Saskatchewan and Trinity Western will make the Canada West playoffs, and likely will face one another in an opening round series. I say this simply due to how their scoring is spread throughout their lineups, and it's not likely to change unless other players take it upon themselves to make them dangerous.

Chelsea Debusschere and Olivia Leier are good secondary scoring options for the Spartans behind Anderson and Potomak, but getting more out of Mackenzie Mayo, Jordyn Matthews, and Neisha Germann would go a long way. I get that not everyone can play on the top line, but someone needs to find some consistent scoring deeper in the Spartans' lineup if they want to go deep into the playoffs. Shutting down a couple of players or one line in a three-game playoff series is something most good teams can do, so the Spartans need more out of their supporting cast.

The Huskies are getting good scoring out of Brown and Sophie Lalor while Wilkinson has shown she can put passes on tape for goals. Zuchotzki has been solid on the blue line, but the Huskies need more primary scoring out of Kara Kondrat, Mallory Dyer, Kate Ball, and Sara Kendall. Isabella Pozzi and Brooklyn Stevely have been solid defensively, but they, along with Larissa Bohlken, can really drive the play if given the chance. I know the Huskies will never sacrifice defence for offence unless absolutely necessary, but I feel like the Huskies are bursting at the seams with scoring potential that has yet to be realized.

Calgary is seeing good returns with Lang, Borrow, and Mercier playing well, but they really do need some depth scoring to step up consistently. Annaliese Meier really came on in the last few weeks prior to the December break, but they'll need more out of players like Rebecca Clarke, Brooke Dennett, and Sophia Zuck. Adding in a few points from the blue line wouldn't hurt either.

There are ten games left for these teams to round into form, so let's see what happens in January as all three teams look to catch Alberta while jockeying for positon with one another.

The Top Guns

The Mount Royal line of Jomha-Amy-Kollman might be the most complete line in the conference, but it also means that other players have to contribute further down the lineup. Lyndsey Janes and Athena Hauck have shown up for a few games, but disappeared some weekends. The same can be said for Camryn Amundson and Ava Metzger. That's not to say that any of these women won't go on a mad tear in the second-half of the season, but Mount Royal is deeper than one line. They need to show that consistency.

Alberta might be turning the corner based on how they finished the first-half of the schedule. Yes, Willan, Laumbach, and Maplethorpe have done their jobs as expected, but we saw Jadynn Morden and Natalie Kieser really pick up steam as December neared. Abby Soyko cooled off a bit, but the Pandas had others that picked up the slack as Kallie Clouston and Danica Namaka found the back of the net. With Taylor Kezama and Taylor Anker pushing the offence from the blue line, they're finding scoring from all over the roster, and that bodes well for the Pandas if that secondary scoring continues.

The one team that has had no trouble lighting lamps is UBC, and they're getting offence from all over the place. Yes, Koroll, Bassi, and Rhodes are performing well, but Ireland Perrott, Sophia Gaskell, Mia Bierd, and Joelle Fiala have all been contributing as well. Rylind MacKinnon, who was a monster on the UBC blue line last season, picked up her game heading into December, and Sierra LaPlante is looking more confident with every game. Make no mistake that the offensive beast in Canada West is UBC, but they were upset in Nationals by an OUA team that simply locked down the neutral and defensive zones in a 1-0 loss to Nipissing. Can the Thunderbirds make adjustments this season to prevent that again?

The Last Word

What does this all mean? Honestly, nothing if you're content with just watching the games. However, knowing who is putting pucks in the net or putting pucks on sticks which end up in the net is a good thing to have in your back pocket if you're planning strategy to beat one or more of these teams. Shutting down their best offensive players is the best way to ensure a victory. Wins matter, I'm told.

Beyond this statistical look, I do want to wish those celebrating it a "Happy Hanukkah" as the Jewish holiday's eight nights begin today. The Festival of Lights is always celebrated at or near the winter solstice, so be safe if you're celebrating today and the next few days.

I also realize that next Sunday is Christmas Day, so I'm warning you now that I'm bumping The Rundown to Monday as I'll be spending Sunday with family. After all the rules surrounding the pandemic about getting together, this is going to be one festive weekend so I'm going to enjoy it fully and completely. Hockey will literally not be a concern that day.

If you're doing the same this week, be safe, be merry, good tidings to you and yours, and all the best if you're celebrating one of Hanukkah or Christmas! With exams coming to a close this week at universities across Canada West, here's to a very merry holiday season, and we'll see you on Boxing Day for the next dive into Canada West women's hockey!

Until then, Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!