Monday 31 January 2022

Non-Green Huskies?

Normally, I'm all for teams and organizations going green in today's world, but the Saskatchewan Huskies women's hockey team announced today that they're going to eliminate the green in their jerseys for one night for a very good cause. The logo to the left is that of Haven Kids' House, formerly known as Saskatoon Crisis Nursery, will be the benefactors of this decision as the Huskies will don special jerseys as they raise funds for Haven Kids' House for this week through a variety of methods before playing the MacEwan Griffins on February 4! Because I'm all about raising money for a good cause, let's take a closer look at this event!

As you can see to the right, the Huskies will don a new jersey for February 4's game against the Griffins, and we'll take a closer look at that below. Haven Kids' House, though, needs a deeper dive because this great charity does some amazing work in Saskatoon in helping to protect children during crises. More than that, though, Haven Kids' House assist parents and caregivers as well, and they do so without any judgment in any situation. Haven Kids' House ensures that kids can find support when parents and/or caregivers are struggling by providing support, encouragement and access to services such as community-based childcare, mental health and medical assistance for parents, and a safe place for children and parents when more serious problems arise.

One of the special guests at the game on Friday will be a young man by the name of Rhodes McNairn who has earned the nickname "The Champ". Two years ago at the age of five, Rhodes was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and had to stay at the Jim Pattison Children's Hospital. Rhodes met a nurse there who was a big hockey fan, and her and Rhodes developed a friendship as he received chemotherapy for six months. Always quick with a big smile, Rhodes made an impact on this young nurse with his positivity despite everything that was happening to him. Rhodes would need to go to Alberta to receive a stem cell transplant, but the good news is that the leukemia has been in remission since 2020!

The Huskies decided to honour the young man this season with their annual charity game with proceeds from the effort going to Haven Kids' House because of their mission statement which includes "love of family is critical for children's success". Rhodes' family was put through a lot of long days and nights as he battled leukemia, and his parents, Kelly and Sharlene, and his brother and sister, Ethan and Rion, were there every step of the way at the hospital.

A hockey team is like a family, and it should be noted that the nurse he befriended was none other than current Saskatchewan Huskies captain Bailee Bourassa, and she brought The Champ's story back to Merlis Belsher Place when she returned this season. His story made an impact on the team, and this Friday's game will see Rhodes "The Champ" McNairn honoured for his courage in his battle with leukemia while celebrating the friendship that he and Bailee forged while he bravely went for treatment.

The Huskies will wear the jerseys above for Friday's game, and they are absolutely gorgeous in their design. Head coach Steve Kook had been working on these uniforms for some time before they were revealed today, and I'll be the first to say that the effort certainly was worth it as the Huskies will look classy when they take the ice on Friday. They're clean, simple, and look fantastic!

The rear of the jersey is easy to read, the names and numbers stand out, and they look fantastic with the ribbon on the shoulders and "Champ" on the sleeves to honour Rhodes. I did note that the sleeve stripe number might be better in white than just an outline, but that's a quibble that can be shrugged off pretty quickly. I'll also note that I owe Dave, the Huskies' equipment manager, a huge "thanks" for sending me and letting me post these pictures so you can see the uniforms a little better. Thanks, Dave!

There will be all sorts of activities put on by the Huskies this week, so keep your eyes on social media and on the Huskies' website for opportunities to help the Huskies raise a little cash for Haven Kids' House. There's a rumour that there will be a silent auction, so there's a chance to get some great prizes through the Huskies as well with those proceeds going to Haven Kids' House. It's a win-win for everyone in that case!

I want to throw out a big kudos to the Saskatchewan Huskies for their annual effort in raising funds for amazing charities in and around Saskatoon. Like they've done in past years, they've selected a charity that is close to the team, and it's pretty clear that the friendship that Bailee and Rhodes have forged is one that won't be forgotten any time soon with these amazing uniforms and the money raised for Haven Kids' House!

Bailee Bourassa also deserves a little attention for making a new friend and helping to tell his story. Having spent time in a children's hospital as a kid, I know it can be a lonely, scary place for some, so having Bailee make Rhodes' experiences there better by removing some of the fears he may have had is phenomenal. She was already an incredible hockey player so I'd consider her a hero of mine, but to hear how she's a heckuva nurse and spends her days making kids days better? She's a real-life superhero. Period. Case closed.

If you have the means, get down to Merlis Belsher Place on Friday as the Huskies host the Griffins to see the Huskies wear these great jerseys while helping an amazing charity in Saskatoon and celebrating a young man who stared down leukemia and won while making a lifelong friend. If all of those great storylines can't convince you to check out Huskies women's hockey, just go and catch a great game between two fantastic hockey teams!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 30 January 2022

The Rundown - Week 11

On a weekend that supposed to feature no games, we ended turning the conference break into a four-game weekend as two series were moved to this weekend. Both series have playoff-position implications, so these were vitally important games to three of the four teams while the fourth team was looking to play spoiler and ruin their opposition's playoff hopes and dreams. Again, with five teams watching from home, this recap is shorter than most, but it will set up an exciting February of hockey in Canada West. If you're a fan of playoff races, this weekend's series is exactly what you're looking for as we go over everything that happened on The Rundown!

FRIDAY: We'll start in Winnipeg where the Trinity Western Spartans met the Manitoba Bisons in their first-ever regular season series. With six games remaining on the schedule for both teams, points were valuable this weekend as TWU looked to keep their faint playoff hopes alive while Manitoba was looking to move past UBC with whom they were tied in the standings, overtake Saskatchewan for second-place once more, and claim second as their own for at least a week. In other words, these games had importance to both teams! Mabel Maltais was in the blue paint for Trinity Western while Kimmy Davidson earned the start for Manitoba!

Once again, this article will not celebrate blowouts in any way, so this is your foreshadowing of what's to come. I should also note that TWU played with 18 players rather than the standard 20 players. As for the action, Katie Chatyrbok scored her first goal of the season at 8:47 to put Manitoba up 1-0, and Halle Edwards would score with 49 seconds to play in the period to make it 2-0 for Manitoba. Manitoba held a 13-9 edge in shots as we move to the second period.

TWU ran into penalty problems in the middle frame, and it resulted in four power-play goals. Kate Gregoire scored her third of the season at 4:30. Ashley Keller chipped her sixth of the season in at 5:48. Hanna Bailey scored her first Canada West goal at 11:37, and Halle Edwards added her seventh goal in this campaign to make it 6-0. Again, all four goals were scored on the power-play for Manitoba, so special teams played a serious factor in the second period. Manitoba led 24-18 in shots.

After Kate Fawcett replaced Mabel Maltais in the Trinity Western crease to start the period, Trechelle Bunn would round out the scoring just 61 seconds into the frame as the Bisons skated to the 7-0 victory over the Trinity Western Spartans in their first-ever regular-season game. Kimmy Davidson earned her fourth win and second shutout of the season after stopping 28 of 28 shots while Mable Maltais suffered the loss after stopping 18 shots in her 40 minutes of work. For the record, Mabel Maltais stopped four of five shots she faced in her 20 minutes of work.

The Bisons are on the scene with highlights!

SATURDAY: After the lopsided score one night before, it was expected that the Spartans were going to do everything they could to erase those memories. The Bisons were looking to add two more points to their season total, though, so they were going to be hungry as well. Kate Fawcett started this game for Trinity Western while Erin Fargey was in the crease for the Bisons!

Both teams were a little more aggressive in looking for scoring chances early in this game, but it would Manitoba who would find the back of the net first. Madi Cole went bar-down with a laser beam of a wrist shot from the slot for her second goal of the season at 11:42, and the Bisons were up just past the midway point of the period. The Bisons would double their lead when Camryn Gillis led a two-on-one down the ice and fed Kate Gregoire who tucked her fourth goal between the wickets of Fawcett at 15:07. 2:57 later, it became a 3-0 lead when Molly Kunnas' shot ricocheted off a defender in front of Fawcett and got through the netminder for the power-play goal! At the first stoppage, the Bisons held a three-goal lead and a 10-7 edge in shots!

The second period saw Trinity Western play some solid five-on-five hockey as they countered the Bisons' attacks with good stickchecks and a concerted defensive effort. While they looked for opportunities in the Manitoba end, the Bisons were blocking shots and getting into lanes as well. A scoreless second period led to the third period with Manitoba still up 3-0 with an 18-12 lead in shots.

The third period saw Manitoba push for another insurance marker only to be denied once again by Fawcett and the TWU defenders. Trinity Western would press as the period neared the end, but they werte unable to solve Fargey. When the final horn sounded, the Manitoba Bisons recorded their second-straight blanking as they downed the Spartans by a 3-0 score! Erin Fargey earned her sixth victory and second shutout of the season by being perfect on all 21 shots while Kate Fawcett was on the losing end of a 27-save effort.

The Bisons go two-for-two on highlight packages!

FRIDAY: It was good to see UBC finally make it to Calgary for their series against the Dinos with a full complement of players. Calgary, however, came into the weekend with just 14 skaters and two netminders dressed for Friday's game. UBC was looking to reclaim their second-place spot behind Mount Royal while Calgary was looking to break the three-way tie for sixth-place in the conference. Would the shorthanded bench affect the Dinos in this game? Elise Hugens was in the net for the Thunderbirds while Gabriella Durante was between the pipes for the Dinos!

The first period was pretty even in terms of how it was played between these two squads. Rylind MacKinnon would put the UBC Thunderbirds on the board first, however, as she made a nice move to evade the stickcheck of Kate Wagner in the slot before wiring a shot high on the blocker side of Durante that found twine for her eighth goal of the season, and UBC was out in front 1-0 at the 6:13 mark. Calgary would tie the game up with seven minutes remaining in the period when Holly Reuther whacked home a rebound on a goalmouth scramble for her eighth of the season at 12:23, and we'd head into the break with a 1-1 score and Calgary holding a 9-8 edge in shots.

The second period saw all sorts of intrigue as the Dinos had a goal disallowed midway through the frame, but both teams had chances through out the frame. UBC would break the deadlock late in the frame when Chanreet Bassi's shot somehow got past Durante for her sixth of the season at 18:12 for the 2-1 T-Birds lead. However, just 28 seconds later, Holly Reuther's initial shot was blocked in the slot, but Rachel Paul found the loose puck and buried it past Hugens for her sixth of the campaign to tie the game at 2-2, and we'd head to the third period to find a winner with Calgary still holding the slight edge in shots at 15-14.

The third period saw UBC use an early power-play to regain the lead. Hanna Koroll's wrist shot from the point found room through traffic and dented twine on Durante's blocker side for her third of the season, and the power-play goal at 4:54 put UBC in front by a 3-2 score! Calgary would up their efforts as they looked to even the game for the third time on the night, but Hugens and the UBC defence were stout down the stretch as they preserved the 3-2 score and the victory for the Thunderbirds over the Dinos! Elise Hugens earned her eighth win of the season with a 22-save effort while Gabriella Durante stopped 17 shots in the loss.

We have highlights for this game as well!

SATURDAY: The storylines were the same for Saturday's game as UBC looked to jump into second-place while Calgary looked to break that three-team tie for sixth-place. UBC would skate with 20 again while Calgary was still sporting 14 skaters and two goalies. Calgary have a heckuvan effort the night before with 16, but could they change the ending to this game? Elise Hugens was back in the paint for the T-Birds while Durante got the start again for the Dinos!

Calgary seemed to have their legs under them as this game got going, and Taylor Beck would use that momentum to pick up a puck in the offensive zone following a face-off win and wire a high shot glove-side on Hugens for her second goal of the season to put the Dinos out in front 1-0 at the 5:32 mark! UBC would find some life after that goal as they began to pepper the Calgary net with shot, but Durante stood tall as the Dinos tooke the one-goal lead into the break despite being outshot 10-7.

The second period was all about special teams as they were special for the Dinos. Emily Hill's shot from the point went through the screen in front of Hugens for her third of the season, and the power-play goal put the Dinos up 2-0 at 7:03. The Dinos would be back on the power-play 1:15 later when Holly Reuther streaked down the wing, cut to the middle, and unleashed a high wrister that Hugens missed to make it a 3-0 game on Ruether's ninth tally of the season.

UBC head coach Graham Thomas opted to swap his netminders at this point as Reese Hiddleston made her way to the UBC goal, but Calgary was feeling the momentum in their favour. 40 seconds after the goalie change, a turnover in the UBC end allowed Jessica Martens to center the puck from behind the net, and Ashley Sutherland hammered home her first Canada West goal to make it a 4-0 game on the first shot Hiddleston faced. The Calgary power-play was back at it 4:10 later when Rachel Paul's initial shot was kicked out into the slot by Hiddleston, and Alli Borrow buried the rebound for her eighth goal of the season to put Calgary up 5-0 at 13:10. That score would hold into the second break as the four-goal second period did some serious damage as Clagary scored four goals on nine shots in the frame.

Elise Hugens was back in the UBC net following the intermission, and she would put a stop to the Calgary scoring. The only problem was that Durante was just as good at the other end of the ice, and the final horn would sound on a 5-0 victory for the Calgary Dinos over the UBC Thunderbirds! Gabriella Durante was sharp in picking up her seventh win and second shutout of the season on a 25-save night while Elise Hugens suffered the loss after stopping 20 of 23 shots in her 48:18 of work. Reese Hiddleston, for the record, stopped one shot on three attempts in her 11:42 of relief work.

Highlights of this game are below! As an aside, thank you to both Manitoba and Calgary for producing highlight packages - this is exactly what I like seeing, and both schools deserve a little kudos for the effort. Thank you!
School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
Mount Royal
24 43 16
22 44 28
20 52 25
vs MRU
20 35 20
vs MAC
16 29 26
vs TWU
14 42 46
12 18 36
12 27 43
vs MAN
Trinity Western
4 16 66
**teams in yellow and italics have clinched a playoff spot**

Very Interesting Ending

Looking at the "Next" above, indicating who plays whom next weekend, there are some intriguing series that will happen. Obviously, the Mount Royal-UBC series will be the one to watch as UBC legitimately could upset Mount Royal's push to have home-ice advantage throughout the Canada West playoffs. UBC is still aiming for a top-two finish as well, so beating Mount Royal and winning the tie-breaker between those two teams would help them immensely if they were to find themselves tied in the standings.

Manitoba, who is 1-1 versus Regina this season, will travel to the Queen's city to renew that rivalry. Regina needs to win games to compete for a playoff spot, but Manitoba may have a shot at first-place in the conference depending on the MRU-UBC results. Manitoba could put a lot of pressure on Saskatchewan in that last weekend in their hunt for playoff positioning with a pair of wins over the Cougars, so this will be a big weekend for Manitoba once again as they have a shot at making things interesting for a numvber of teams including themselves.

Saskatchewan will face a tough MacEwan team who also needs wins to remain in the playoff hunt. MacEwan has to find a pile of wins in their remaining six games to overcome Calgary, who holds the tie-breaker over MacEwan, if they hope to play in the postseason. Saskatchewan, meanwhile, could also make things very interesting at the top of the table with a pair of wins as they'll also put a ton of pressure on the other three teams sitting above them. Needless to say, these two teams will be hunting for wins this weekend.

Alberta, who plays at home against Trinity Western, is looking to add its name to the top-four conversation which would mean they'd host a playoff game at Clare Drake Arena. Alberta plays very tough at home, so there will be a few teams who'd like to avoid starting their playoff run at that arena. Trinity Western, meanwhile, can spoil Alberta's dreams pretty quickly if they can post a win or two against the Pandas.

Every week will be about scoreboard watching from here as the playoff storylines will evolve depending upon wins and losses. If you were looking for the most exciting time in Canada West this season, it's definitely going to be February 2022!

The Last Word

With all teams having played 14 games and a handful having played 16 games, there will only be six teams playing in the final weekend of the season as Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Trinity Western will all be watching to see who does what that weekend. Trinity Western's playoff dreams are, unfortunately, dead at this point so they'll get to play spoiler for the next couple of weekends, but both Manitoba and Saskatchewan will be scoreboard-watching when they're not playing.

When I first saw the Canada West schedule, I didn't foresee the kind of playoff races we're seeing right now. Somehow, though, the hockey gods have granted us with a battle to the final horn on the final weekend to determine who finishes where in Canada West. It'll be interesting to see who finishes where this season, but this is the perfect time to lobby for some support because these will be exciting games down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Get your tickets through your local university's athletics department or at the box office if that option is being offered. You'll get to see some amazing players - as shown above by the highlights! - as they look to claim playoff positions. Come down, see some great hockey for relatively inexpensive prices, and cheer on your local squad as they look to capture Canada West glory!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 29 January 2022

Intermission Segments

As one of the main producers of content for Bisons hockey broadcasts on Canada West TV and UMFM, the work that Bisons Sports does to showcase other schools and highlight news from around the conference is something we use to set ourselves apart from all the other Canada West broadcasts. We started doing this in the 2019-20 season of hockey, and it's carrying forward through to this season where we use each home game as a way to highlight some exceptional work being done at the other Canada West schools during the intermissions. The feedback we've received about these intermission pieces is very positive, so it's something we're going to continue to do next season and beyond.

In knowing that you, as fans, are paying money to watch the Canada West TV broadcasts, Bisons Sports and I realize that you're likely looking for content and stories you won't find anywhere else. That's part of how subscriptions to services work - you get access to things that non-subscribers don't. That's part of putting in the work and learning how to edit and make videos as I was doing, so hopefully you find value in these pieces if you're a Canada West TV subscriber.

I want to post the intermission videos we produced for this weekend here, though, because I'm hoping for feedback from all people - subscribers, non-subscribers, people who just want to watch videos - about the content in the videos and the delivery of that content. For example, would you think about subscribing to Canada West TV in order to watch this kind of content? Does focusing on stories at other schools provide value you normally wouldn't get unless you went to those schools?

Watch these videos and leave a comment below. I'm very interested to see if these videos are have any impact on anyone. If they don't, it wouldn't make sense to keep doing them and working our butts off to produce them. If you do find value in them, though, that's important to us, so please leave a comment below and we'll evaluate from there!

The first video is former UBC Thunderbirds forward Cassandra Vilgrain talking with Hockey Alberta's Ted Emmett about her hockey experiences and facing racism in the game. With some of the issues seen this past week in hockey, this one seemed like a relevant topic to bring up as Cassandra did face racism in hockey as a person of colour. We superimposed a number of additional images to the video while condensing the chat to a ten-minute segment. Cassandra's words about the racism she faced in the game rung true as I read the stories of racism in the game this week, and I think it's an important lesson that we shouldn't be naive to think it doesn't exist in the women's game despite there being far fewer stories than in men's hockey. Having Cassandra as an outspoken person who can relate those examples to the up-and-coming generations is very good for hockey, and I would think the UBC Thunderbirds are proud of what she's doing just as much as we are at Bisons Sports!

The video tribute we ran in the second intermission on Friday was for former UBC Thunderbirds forward Amanda Asay who tragically passed away earlier this month at the age of 33 after succumbing to injuries she sustained during a skiing accident. Amanda's career with the Thunderbirds was only a couple of seasons long after she began her university adventure with Brown at the NCAA level, but baseball was her passion. We wanted to remember Amanda as part of the Canada West family, and I hope her family, friends, and teammates are finding ways to remember her as she was an amazing person. Amanda's loss is a big one for the baseball community, but she made an impact at UBC on the ice and in the classroom and we felt that she needed to be honoured as part of the Canada West family. Rest peacefully, Amanda. You left us far too early.

On today's broadcast, we had a few cool stories about the Trinity Western Spartans as we featured them as the highlighted school. I spoke a little about Kyra McDonald and how she hails from Inuvik, Northwest Territories along with her being a bit of a TV star. Kyleigh and I spoke about the St. Mary's Academy Flames and their connections to the two teams as well as the Lloydminster Steelers and their connections to both teams and Winnipeg, and that came out of the chat we had with Neisha Germann on The Hockey Show earlier this week. We put some images to a condensed version of the interview, so here's that piece! Having had a chance to see Neisha play in person, she's a player to keep an eye on as we move forward. She's fast, aggressive, and can score, so I wouldn't be surprised if she's a difference-maker for the Spartans as she plays out the remainder of her eligibility just like she has been thus far!

If you've watched these videos, is there value in Bisons Sports and I producing these videos? Do you like them? Are they interesting? Because we want to put the women in Canada West front and center, we feel there is value, but we also have a vested interest in promoting these women. Because we're somewhat biased, we want your opinion on these pieces!

Leave a comment below. No thought, comment, or opinion is wrong. If you don't like them or find no value in them, that's important to us because we want to ensure you're getting your money's worth - literally - on our Canada West TV broadcasts. And if you feel like you don't want your comments seen by the world and only myself, feel free to submit those comments here via email. Again, all comments are important on this topic, so please reach out as we're seeking input!

I'm hoping we can do more of these as I believe these stories and women matter when it comes to hockey. I hope you feel the same, but we're all about listening to the people who support us. Give us your thoughts on how we can make stuff like this better, and we'll work those suggestions into the broadcasts!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 28 January 2022

Kane Lands In Edmonton

I'm pretty certain that he's not a member of the feline species, but Evander Kane seemingly has nine lives after the Edmonton Oilers announced today that the mercurial forward had signed a deal with the Alberta squad for the remainder of the season. From what was indicated, the NHL's investigation into Kane flying into Canada while being having COVID-19 has concluded, and the winger will be able to don the blue-and-orange as early as Saturday when the Oilers visit the Bell Centre in Montreal to battle the Canadians. Seeing Kane find yet another chance in the NHL just makes me shake my head as accountability and responsibility apparently mean nothing to Ken Holland.

Kane's status in terms of the travel problems he created was cleared up earlier in the day. As per ESPN, the NHL stated that "the investigation was conducted by Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP. The report it generated said there was insufficient evidence to 'conclusively find that Mr. Kane knowingly made misrepresentations regarding his COVID-19 status or test results in connection with his international travel.'"

Kane, who had been flirting with a few teams, immediately agreed to the deal with the Oilers upon being told there would be no further punishment, and Kane was aboard a plane to Edmonton to sign off on the contract. Hockey fans, pundits, and people within the game rolled their eyes at the announcement, wrinkled their noses at the Oilers, and heaved a collective sigh of "WHY?"

What may have surprised people the most about the signing wasn't that Kane inked a deal with Edmonton nor that Edmonton was willing to bring him in after his many documented issues. Instead, it was the full no-movement clause that was granted to Kane by the Oilers as it now guarantees Kane will be with the Oilers regardless of what happens until the final horn sounds on the Oilers' season. Kane can't be waived or traded for any reason without his consent, so whatever happens over the next few months is on the heads of Bob Nicholson and Ken Holland.

Two weeks ago, Ken Holland told reporters that he believes in second chances, and now Evander Kane's second-second-second-second chance will be played out in Edmonton. When it comes to a leopard changing its spots, here are three statements by Kane regarding moves to new teams. Which one came from his press conference in Edmonton?
1. "This is a great opportunity. Excitement probably doesn't do it enough justice to how I feel. I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to possibly play in the playoffs and add as much as I can to that group and help get us in there and hopefully go on a long run."
2. "I don't know if there's a winger in the League that would say they don't fit well on either one of those guys' lines. So for me, it would be an easy fit either way and again, that's part of what makes it so exciting."
3. "It's nice to go somewhere where you feel wanted and you feel that they want to put you in a situation to have success."
If you read all three, they all seem to have Kane saying the right things following his trades to Buffalo, to San Jose, and following the signing in Edmonton. All of the statements above sound like a guy who is excited to join his new team, but we know the fiery rubble he left behind in two of those cities. If the leopard isn't going to change his spots - and it seems unlikely Kane will - the only solution is to change the variables. In this case, that's the term of his stay.

With 43 games left and with games in-hand on every team in their division, the Oilers have a chance to climb out of their funk and back into a playoff spot if Kane truly shows up and plays like a dangerous 20-goal scorer, 40-point player.

That's the key, though: Kane has 43 games to show any hockey GM who is interested in signing him next season that Kane can play hockey and avoid any major public embarrassments. The full no-movement clause in his contract makes it hard for the Oilers to do anything if Kane does mess up, but 43 games might be just enough time to show people that Kane can still play hockey without all the personal turmoil creeping into the picture.

Perhaps this is the future for the 30 year-old Kane: one-year deals where teams take minimal risk in terms of the off-ice antics in order to maximize returns on the ice. It would seem to be the most prudent way to protect one's investment if there's any worry about off-ice behaviour from Kane. Kane and his agent may press for a no-movement clause in order to protect his earnings for that season, but that's up to each individual GM to weigh.

If you were looking for the answer to the question above, statement #2 was what Kane said at his press conference with the Oilers. It's a statement that seems a little self-centered, but Kane has always put his needs and wants before anything else so this shouldn't raise eyebrows. Perhaps if he was focused on playing for this season and the one beyond, he would remain focused on what needs to be done to be successful.

I'm still not pleased that the Oilers signed Kane after all the garbage that went on in San Jose this season. That being said, though, they've made their bed and are now lying in it. Let's just hope that Evander Kane's presence doesn't result in Edmonton wetting the bed.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 27 January 2022

The Hockey Show - Episode 488

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, jumps out of the gates tonight with a guest who we're extremely proud to feature as she's leading her team to success! As we know, playing for an expansion team of any kind will mean there are growing pains of some kind, but the Trinity Western Spartans jumped into the ultra-competitive Canada West conference this season and it's been a bit of a struggle. That's not to say they haven't battled hard in every game, and they're led by the guest we have on tonight as we get a crash course in all things Trinity Western before they arrive to play the Bisons this weekend!

Tonight, we meet this fantastic woman as Teebz and Jenna chat with Spartans captain Neisha Germann! We go over Neisha's illustrious career that includes growing up in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, playing for the Lloydminster PWM Steelers in the AFHL, making the jump to the ACAC where she joined the Red Deer College Queens, some of her ACAC career highlights, moving to Trinity Western, joining the Spartans as one of their veteran players, some historic moments she's been a part of with that program, and more! Neisha is an incredible player for TWU, and I'll encourage you to come down to Wayne Fleming Arena to see her play this weekend. However, make sure you listen to the show tonight at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via to get to know this incredible woman as she gets the Spartans ready to lay siege on the Bisons!

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! 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 sit down with Trinity Western's Neisha Germann to talk about growing up in LLoydminster, the Steelers, the Queens, the Spartans, former teammates, new teammates, moving to Langley, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the web stream!

PODCAST:January 27, 2022: Episode 488

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 26 January 2022

15 Years Later...

I don't normally draw attention to this blog in anyway, but I've crossed what some may consider a major milestone back on January 21. It's a fairly unremarkable day when you consider everything. Outside of Barack Obama being sworn in for the second time in 2009 due to a word being out of place the first time and Toyota taking over taking over as the top car manufacturer from General Motors in 2009, two years earlier saw Hockey Blog In Canada started as a way to record my thoughts on the game of hockey in general. Since then, it has branched into many other areas.

Like Tom Smykowski above, HBIC has always been about the people in the game. While I criticize the business of the game heavily and often, I'm also very aware that the business leads to some good stuff being done on charitable fronts. At the end of the day, though, this game is often better when people play like they love the game rather than playing for a contract.

For me, I don't know if I envisioned me doing this for fifteen years for what has become a daily basis. Every day, there are good and not-so-good stories that pop up from every corner of the planet, and it has made me appreciate what I think makes the game so good. I'll admit that a lot of the good things seen in the game, from my perspective, come from levels not named "NHL", but I think this makes me a different sort of hockey fan in that the grassroots efforts of the game mean that much more to me.

For me, I watch less NHL hockey than ever before. It's not to say that I'm not following the league or the news from the league, but there's so much good hockey at the amateur level and minor-pro level that strictly calling one's self "a hockey fan" and only watching the NHL means that you're not being entirely truthful with yourself. You can be an NHL fan - there's nothing wrong with that - but being a hockey fan means going to see hockey played at other levels or finding ways to watch games at other levels.

I spent a few nights during the holiday season taking in some minor hockey around my city, and it was incredible to see the next generation's level of skill and talent that will rise to the top. Knowing that the pipelines to the next levels of hockey are filled with good, young players makes me smile because their skills and talents will only get better as long as they're willing to put in the work.

From a place back in 2007 where I just wrote down thoughts about the game, this blog has evolved into a radio show, university hockey broadcasts, work with an AHL team, chances to work alongside Sportsnet and CBC personalities, and the opportunity meet some of the people who make the game so great and hear their stories from the game. I'm grateful for every single click on an article or piece on here because it means you may be interested in hearing some of these stories.

I'm some 5287 articles into this blog - that's a lot of words! - and I can't say when it will end. What I do know is that I'll keep pounding the keys on the keyboard for a little while longer as I look for new opportunities and fun. Maybe that will mean I'll have to post less often. Maybe that means I'll stop posting altogether. What I do know as I move into my 15th writing on this space is that I'm still as thankful today for you reading as I was back in 2007 when I published my very first words here.

Thanks for reading, folks. Let's seek out some more great stories!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 25 January 2022

Some Records Are Broken

There are records that exist at the NHL that won't ever be touched unless something dramatic changes how the game is played. For every Connor McDavid who can score 120 points in a normal season, there are 31 other coaches looking for ways to shut him down at every turn. And while points totals in one season might be one of those "never again" records, the man in the Philadelphia Flyers jersey above accomplished something very few players will ever approach in today's game outside of, perhaps, one player who is keeping pace with him. What needs to be said is Keith Yandle's new record is pretty impressive when you hear it.

Hockey is a game of bumps, bruises, tweaks, pulls, strains, sprains, and general soreness that pile up. For defenders, add in the added bonus of blocking shots - whether by their own volunteering or because pucks hit them as they're defending - and those bumps and bruises can pile up even faster. When you're a defender like Keith Yandle who logs a ton of minutes and plays against the other team's top players, there's bound to be a laundry list of aches and pains that would make him want to take a night off.

The last time Keith Yandle didn't dress for a game was March 22, 2009. The Phoenix Coyotes, coached by Wayne Gretzky, had scratched Yandle that evening in favour of these defenders against the Anaheim Ducks: Ed Jovanovski, Dmitri Kalinin, Ken Klee, Zbynek Michalek, Kurt Sauer, and David Hale. The Ducks would prey upon the Coyotes' penalty-killing units, scoring three power-play goals in the third period to turn a 3-2 lead into a 6-2 win. That would be the last time that Keith Yandle watched any game from the pressbox.

He would start the next game against the Edmonton Oilers, replacing David Hale in the lineup as the Coyotes looked to bounce back after that loss against the Ducks. He played 14:32 in that game - the least of any of the Coyotes' defenders - but finished with a +1 rating as the Coyotes earned a 3-2 victory over the Oilers. That would be the first game in the "ironman" streak on which he was about to embark!

4688 days later, Keith Yandle has now played in 965 consecutive games, breaking the mark set by Doug Jarvis set between October 8, 1975 and October 10, 1987. Jarvis' streak came to an end when the Hartford Whalers sent him to the AHL's Binghamton Whalers. Yandle's streak, though, looks like it will continue until the Flyers feel he's unable to help them win or Yandle decides that he needs a night off. Neither of those situations seems plausible at this point, so that 965-game record will continue to build, and there's a chance he could hit 1000 games this season with the remaining games left on Philadelphia's calendar!

To put this in perspective, here are the staggering numbers Yandle has amassed since the streak started with Phoenix:
  • Yandle's streak started more than 12 years ago.
  • Yandle was traded from the Coyotes to the Rangers on March 1, 2015, but played the next night for the Rangers in his 448th-straight game.
  • The four players who went from New York to Phoenix in the deal - John Moore, Anthony Duclair, Oliver Kylington, and Dennis Cholowski - have played a combined 1217 games in the NHL, just 252 more than Yandle's current streak!
  • Yandle's first game as a Rangers defender was against the Nashville Predators. He was a -1 in 19:41 of ice-time in a 4-1 New York win over Nashville.
  • Yandle would be traded from the Rangers to the Florida Panthers on June 20, 2016 where he'd suit up for his 552nd-straight game on opening night of the Panthers' 2016-17 schedule against the New Jersey Devils.
  • The two players who went to New York in the deal - Scott Reedy and Tyler Wall - have played just five games combined in the NHL.
  • Yandle's opening night in 2016 saw Yandle log 25:35 of ice-time in a 2-1 Panthers win.
  • Yandle left Florida as a free agent after having played 922 consecutive games, signing with Philadelphia on July 28, 2021.
  • Shane Doan played with Yandle more than any other player - 420 games.
  • Yandle has scored 572 of his 613 points during the streak.
  • Yandle has skated for 25,091 shifts prior to tonight's game against the Islanders.
  • Yandle has logged 20,877 minutes during the streak.
  • Yandle has blocked 940 shots during the streak.
  • Yandle has played the Dallas Stars the most during his streak - 47 games against the Stars!
  • Phil Kessel may be the only player who has a chance to, one day, break Yandle's streak at this point, having skated in 941 consecutive games since 2009.
It's rather amazing to think that Keith Yandle hasn't missed a day of work in 12 years. Yes, there may have been maintenance days here and there where a practice was skipped, but I'm pretty sure the guy earned it after not taking a game off for more than a decade. We know the value of rest when needed, but the fact that Yandle continues to play at a high level for this long without a break is a statement about his dedication to his own health and well-being.

965 games and counting. That's a heckuva record, and it's one that almost certainly will never be broken. There's only one person who may catch Yandle at some point, and that's the man to the right and stated above: Phil Kessel. If there's one thing I've learned about Phil Kessel since he broke into the NHL, don't underestimate Kessel in any way. If you take a night off against Phil Kessel, he'll make you pay.

As it stands, Keith Yandle holds the record for most consecutive games played, but he seemingly can't take a day off unless Phil Kessel does. I'm cheering for both to have good health as they near 1000 consecutive games each as I want to see these streaks continue for as long as humanly possible!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 24 January 2022

Just A Couple of BCEBUGs

As we know, there have been all sorts of EBUG situations this season with COVID-19 and the protocols surrounding testing, but it became a huge problem for the Vancouver Canucks and Abbotsford Cancuks on Sunday when three of their goalies were placed into COVID-19 protocol. Normally, Vancouver would recall a goalie from their AHL club, the Abbotsford Canucks, but, as stated, Abbotsford was having their own mini-emergency surrounding their goaltending situation. That forced the Canucks at both the NHL and AHL levels to look elsewhere, and they went to their own backyard for solutions!

It was a pretty big night for all of Canada West, the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds men's hockey program, and the Trinity Western Spartans men's hockey program as a couple of players got called up to the big leagues for one night!

Rylan Toth, who has arguably been the best netminder in Canada West men's hockey for the UBC Thunderbirds this season, had his phone ring in the afternoon as the Vancouver Canucks needed him to backup starter Michael Di Pietro against St. Louis. Clearly, this is a huge opportunity that was presented to Rylan.

Meanwhile, down in Langley, BC, Talor Joseph, starting netminder for the Trinity Western Spartans men's team, had his phone ring in the afternoon as the Abbotsford Canucks needed him to backup starter Joe Murdaca against the San Diego Gulls! Without any delay, I assume, both men grabbed their respective gear and were off to join their respective professional teams!

Wearing the same #31 he wore when he played with the WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds, Toth was on the ice for warmups against the Blues with the Canucks! Toth, for those asking, normally wears #34 with the Thunderbirds which isn't worn by a current Canucks player as far as I could find, so one has to wonder if there's some significance to the #31 that Toth chose to wear for Vancouver. In any case, the nvay blue-and-yellow pads that he wore certainly stood out as being distinctly the colours of the Thunderbirds, but Rylan looked good standing in NHL blue paint!

The only negative news on this night was that Toth never got a chance to make a few stops in the game against St. Louis. While Di Pietro played well, it was a game that the Canucks would drop by a 3-1 score when the final horn sounded. Toth doesn't get to record any NHL stats per se, but he does get himself his very own Canucks jersey on a night where he got to watch the game from the best seat in the house. Toth can take a few stories back to the Thunderbirds about Bruce Boudreau's speeches between periods, what advice the players may have had for him as he prepared for his first NHL warmup, and his overall experience as an NHL netminder!

Meanwhile, one hour away in Abbotsford, Talor Joseph was gearing up for his debut with the Canucks as well. The only difference was he was suiting up for the AHL's Abbotsford Canucks! Joseph donned his jersey that saw him wear #30, a number I don't believe he's worn before in his career, for the game against San Diego. For the record, Joseph wears #35 for Trinity Western, but has a long history of wearing #1, a number he wore with both the OUA's Nipissing Lakers and the MJHL's Portage Terriers. In any case, Talor Joseph was on the ice and taking shots in warmup from his new AHL teammates in case he was called upon in his game!

Like Toth, Joseph was not pressed into action on Sunday, but he did have a good vantage point as the Abbotsford Canucks defeated the San Diego Gulls by a 4-2 score. He will get to take home his very own AHL jersey for future "look what I did" conversations, but the experiences he had last night - hearing head coach Trent Cull rally the troops before the game and in between periods, seeing players like Noah Juulsen and Madison Bowey clear bodies in front of him, and watching the preparation that some of the players do in getting ready for games at the professional level - will last for years. That kind of experience can't be obtained at the Canada West level very easily.

Some readers might be saying, "Yeah, but this was just a one-game emergency thing" which, of course, wouldn't be wrong. But for a player like Rylan Toth who has stated that he wants to play hockey after he graduates, this is the chance to build relationships at the next level before arriving at that level.

Vancouver doesn't have an ECHL affiliate that they use exclusively if that's the next opportunity that Toth sought, but Jim Rutherford knows plenty of people in hockey that might be willing to give Rylan Toth a shot. With Talor Joseph in the same situation, there could be two Canada West goalies suiting up in the ECHL or in a European league next season thanks to the relationships they're building within the Canucks organization.

In saying that, the present news is exciting for Canada West fans like myself because we get to see these guys play regularly at rinks across western Canada. Talor Joseph, for example, will be at Wayne Fleming Arena in Winnipeg this weekend as Trinity Western visit the Manitoba Bisons, so there's a chance to see one of the men above live and in-person at the end of the week! Those kinds of opportunities are what players in U SPORTS need in order to get that one break they seek, and I'm happy to see both Rylan and Talor getting their opportunities!

It was a big night where two players wore new jerseys as Canada West made an impact on both the NHL and AHL. There likely will be other opportunities that arise for players before this season is done, so here's hoping we see more EBUGs come from the Canadian university scene! We already had two BCEBUGs on the same night!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 23 January 2022

The Rundown - Week 10

In writing these recaps, I always expect a busy weekend of hockey since there are usually eight games played. For mid-January, this was an odd week with only four games being played, four teams in action, and five on the sidelines watching from home. We'll talk about why this was down below, but an abbreviated version of The Rundown is what we're getting this week thanks to some schedule changes. For the teams that did play, there were moves within the standings, but it should be noted that there's one team who sits with four games in-hand on everyone else. Clearly, the standings may look a little weird this week.

For the second-straight week, the UBC Thunderbirds were excused from playing due to an ongoing COVID-19 situation within their team. As a result, they couldn't make the trip to Calgary to play the Dinos as scheduled, and these games will be moved to next weekend assuming that UBC can find the necessary ten skaters and two goaltenders to make the trip.

Let me be clear: this situation is extremely irresponsible on UBC's behalf. They had their games against Mount Royal postponed one week earlier, so there should have been provisions made in order to play long before this weekend's games arrived assuming they had the required ten-plus-two players. If they were granted a postponement because they couldn't fly to Calgary as opposed to taking a bus there, that's completely on Canada West, and Canada West should be ashamed of itself after Regina bussed to Saskatoon with fifteen players and played.

Again, I empathize with the players who may have contracted the virus which prevented Mount Royal from flying into Vancouver to play UBC, but there were a full seven days between the postponement announcements and no one reported a thing that suggested that UBC was testing daily, reporting those results, and ensuring they would have the necessary number of players to play, let alone to travel.

If it sounds like I'm calling out UBC and Canada West, I am. Both organizations are creating an unfair advantage for UBC when you consider what Regina went through against Saskatchewan. The responsibility is on the players and team to ensure they're healthy and ready to play, and if that means they have to play with just ten skaters, so be it. Canada West should be forcing them to, at the very least, report daily testing from players so that the schedule proceeds as planned while taking whatever measures necessary to have them travel. If that means a 13-hour bus ride to Calgary, saddle up, ladies.

It's been more than 14 days since they discovered positive COVID-19 tests among the players, and they still didn't have ten skaters and two netminders? I'll let Adam Sandler handle this.

The one series that did have Canada West's blessing to be postponed that didn't involve COVID-19 was this weekend's games between Trinity Western and Manitoba. The Spartans were supposed to have travelled to Winnipeg to meet the Bisons, but the University of Manitoba faculty strike, which lasted a little more than a month over November and December, forced the university to change its exam schedule in order for classes to finish in the first semester.

With the exams moved to this past week at the university, the Bisons reached out to Trinity Western and Canada West to ask if they could push the games to next week. Trinity Western agreed, Canada West agreed, and all was good in terms of the scheduling.

You might be wondering about the other sports played at the University of Manitoba and what happened there, but I can tell you that it was easier for the local teams to gather rather than sending teams to the west coast. Both the basketball and volleyball programs played against the University of Winnipeg, so there was little disruption to exam schedules and studying for both teams in terms of their preparation this week. The University of Manitoba track-and-field program also hosted the Polar Vortex track meet event at the James Daly Fieldhouse, so that too worked out in their favour.

And just to tip my cap to Trinity Western University, they'll send both their men's and women's teams here next weekend for hockey. The women will play Friday night and Saturday afternoon while the men will play Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Trinity Western did Manitoba a real solid on this one, so, on behalf of the Bisons, we owe you some thanks, TWU! See you next weekend!

FRIDAY: Since you came for some game recaps, let's get a few done as the Saskatchewan Huskies headed west to Edmonton for a weekend series against the Alberta Pandas. With just two points separating these two teams in the standings, this weekend had all sorts of potential playoff ramifications depending on results. Camryn Drever got the start for the Huskies whiel Halle Oswald was protecting the net for the Pandas!

This game was highlighted by two things: great goaltending at both ends and a relentless Huskies forecheck that only seemed to get better as this game went on. The goaltending of Oswald, though, was the story in the first as she stymied the Huskies regularly. That would help the Pandas as they finally solved Drever late in the period as Natalie Kieser banged home her eighth of the season from the doorstep off a Megan Wilson rebound, and the Pandas went to the break up 1-0 with Kieser's goal scored with 52 seconds left on the clock. Saskatchewan, though, led 9-8 in shots.

The second period saw the goaltending clinic at both ends of the ice continue as both Drever and Oswald were outstanding. Saskatchewan pressured the Pandas all period long, though, as the ice began to tilt slightly, but the 1-0 lead would hold through 40 minutes despite Saskatchewan holding an 18-12 edge in shots.

We know that Saskatchewan has struggled to score at times this season, and it seemed to plague them again on Friday. Shot after shot was denied by Oswald as the Huskies simply couldn't push a puck past the goal line. The hockey gods, however, would grant them a bounce that could potentially change the outcome of the game when Kelsey Hall's high flip of the puck into the zone took a weird bounce in front of Oswald that eluded her entirely and ended up inside the post! With 3:01 remaining, Kelsey Hall's second goal of the season tied the game at 1-1, and it seemed to revitalize the Huskies as they blitzed the Pandas in the final three minutes, but the horn would sound and this game would need overtime!

The first period of free hockey saw the Pandas push back as they regrouped, but Drever was good on every attempt as this back-and-forth battle continued. There would be no winner found in the four-on-four period, so we'd move to three-on-three overtime!

We'd find a winner on this one as all three Huskies on the ice got involved. Kennedy Brown and Kendra Zuchotzki led a rush down the ice, but Brown's pass couldn't be converted by Zuchotzki. However, she'd stay on the puck, circle the net, and spot Jordyn Holmes in the high slot. Holmes' shot deflected off a defender in front, went high on Oswald, and found the back of the net at 3:50 of the second overtime period to give the Huskies the 2-1 double-overtime win! Camryn Drever earned her sixth win on a 19-save night while Halle Oswald suffered the extra-time loss after stopping 29 shots.

I want to point out that we do have a highlight package here, but it wasn't created by either team as I threw this together in about 30 minutes using the new video editing skills I've learned. It's not a polished, shiny, beautiful thing by any means, but the two goals that Saskatchewan posted to social media are now in one concise highlight package along with a few other static images I added. If I can do it with my limited video editing skills, why aren't schools doing it?

SATURDAY: A weird bounce and a deflection changed a solid effort from Halle Oswald into an overtime loss one night earlier, so one had to wonder what would happen in the rematch one day later. Would we see another goaltending clinic from the starters at either end? Would the teams open things up and light the lamps a little more? Camryn Drever would answer those questions for Saskatchewan in her second game of the weekend while Kirsten Chamberlin was on the Alberta side of those questions.

Alberta came out a little hungrier in this game, but the questions above were answered early as both Drever and Chamberlin looked ready to stop anything thrown their ways. We'd get no scoring in the first period due to those efforts, so we'll jump to the second period with Alberta leading 11-7 in shots, but the score holding at 0-0.

The second period was more of the same as both Drever and Chamberlin were all too happy to show off their skills in stopping pucks. Although the official scoring reads 12-7 in shots for the period in favour of Alberta, it felt a lot close than that to me. It looked like Saskatchewan did take a lead with a minute left in the second frame, but the goal was disallowed. We'll jump to the third period with game tied 0-0 and Alberta up 23-14 in pucks on goalies.

The third period saw one of those these two goalies solved, though. Bailee Bourassa, on the power-play, cut into the middle and unleashed a backhander that looked like to surprised Chamberlin a little, but the puck found twine at the 3:48 mark as Bourassa's third goal of the season made it 1-0 for the Huskies! Minutes later, Bourassa made it 2-0 when found room past Chamberlin for her fourth of the campaign at 5:53. On a two-on-one later in the period, Nicole Fry's high shot rattled the mask of Chamberlin, but the rebound fell in front where Jasper Desmarais poked it past Chamberlin for her third of the season and the third Saskatchewan goal of the night!

That was more than enough offence on this night for Drever as she backstopped the Huskies to the 3-0 over the Pandas! Camryn Drever earned her seventh win and second shutout of the season in stopping all 33 shots she faced while Kirsten Chamberlin suffered the loss on a 19-save afternoon. In what might be even cooler news, the Saskatchewan Huskies recorded, for the first-time ever, a sweep at Clare Drake Arena over the Pandas! When you think of how long these two foes have been playing, that's a heckuva streak to break! Congrats, Saskatchewan!

More highlights from social media clips produced by me are below! You hear that, Alberta? I can do it. So can you.

The other set of games that were being played saw Mount Royal head east to Regina where it was Cougars-versus-Cougars in this series. Mount Royal could do real damage to Regina's playoff hopes with a coupel of wins while wrapping up their own playoff spot. Regina was looking to pull ahead of the idea Dinos and Griffins with wins this weekend. Katilyn Ross was sent to the crease for Mount Royal while Regina started Arden Kliewer in this game. And just so everyone's aware, Regina played with 18 skaters and two goalies after they battled COVID-19 last week. You hear that, UBC?

Back to the task at hand, this game was a little more physical than what I normally expect from these squads. Both sides looked to establish their games early in this one, but neither would be able to solve the other's goalie early on. A power-play late in the period would be the advantage that Mount Royal needed, though, as Tianna Ko popped a Tatum Amy rebound past Kliewer at 17:21 for her eighth goal of the season, and the power-play marker put MRU up 1-0. They carried that lead into the break while holding a 13-8 edge in shots.

The second period saw a few disagreements lead to some alone-time in the penalty box for a few players, but both Ross and Kliewer were doing what they do best in denying goals. With no lamps lit, that 1-0 Mount Royal lead from the first period would carry to the third period along with a 19-17 lead in shots.

This is the period where there was a bit of a catfight between these two Cougars clubs. Eight minor penalties were called between the two teams, and one of them turned into a goal. Breanne Trotter took a pass from Emma Bergesen in front of the net, and she buried her second goal of the season on the power-play at 10:19 to put Mount Royal up 2-0. That would be twice as much offence as Kaitlyn Ross needed on this night as she denied all Regina shooters as Mount Royal won by that 2-0 score. Kaitlyn Ross made 22 stops for her third win and second shutout of the season while Arden Kliewer made 22 saves in the loss.

The Regina Cougars haven't posted highlights in six months. It's like they're against the idea despite them posting highlights regularly one year ago. It's almost as if Regina has been cast as Terence Fletcher in Whiplash when it comes to highlights packages of its teams.

SATURDAY: The two Cougars-named school teams met in Regina against after Mount Royal's win one night earlier. Mount Royal, depending on results today, could virtually lock up a playoff spot since they hold tie-breakers against two of the teams competing for sixth-place. Regina, meanwhile, just needed points to move ahead of the schools who were idle. The same netminders were back at it on Saturday afternoon as Kaitlyn Ross was in the blue paint for Mount Royal while Arden Kliewer was between the pipes for Regina.

Let's just say that this game saw the ice tilted early in one direction. Tianna Ko scored her ninth of the season at the 7:24 mark, and Kaia Borbandy added her second goal just 33 seconds later as Mount Royal made it very clear that they had come to play on Saturday. Regina had a few chances, but nothing where players would have nightmares in terms of being denied. After one period, a very motivated MRU squad led 2-0 and held a 13-7 edge in shots.

The second period saw Mount Royal attack in waves as Regina was overwhelmed at times. Somehow, they survived the onslaught of shots to manage a couple of their own, one of which found the back of the net. Jordan Kulbida's high shot went off Ross's blocker, and Shaylee Scraba was in the right spot for the rebound as she potted her first Canada West goal of her career at 18:47 to cut the deficit to one goal. Through 40 minutes, Mount Royal had the 2-1 lead and a 29-9 margin in shots. That's not a typo.

The third period seemed like the game may remain close, but Mount Royal wanted a little breathing room. Maddison Toppe's first goal of the season at 12:23 provided that. Tatum Amy's fifth of the season at 14:51 provided a little more breathing room. And Kaia Borbandy's third goal of the season and second of the game at 16:05 was more than enough breathing room for the Alberta-based Cougars as Mount Royal skated to the 5-1 win over the Regina Cougars. Kaitlyn Ross picked up her fourth win of the season on a ten-save night while Arden Kliewer made 34 saves in this game.

Are we ever going to see highlights, Regina? Even once this season?
School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
Mount Royal
24 43 16
20 35 20
18 49 18
18 34 28
vs TWU
16 29 26
12 35 43
vs UBC
12 18 36
12 27 43
Trinity Western
4 16 56

Who Plays On What Day?

With the schedule all messed up thanks to UBC's postponements, the Thunderbirds will now host travel to Calgary to play the Dinos on this upcoming weekend before welcoming the Mount Royal Cougars to Vancouver on February 4 and 5. Once those games are completed on the first weekend in February, everyone should be back in alignment in terms of games with at least 16 games played of the 20 games scheduled for each team. Playoff pictures will start to come into focus over the next two weeks, so keep your eyes on the standings!

According to the information I have, the Canada West Quarterfinal best-of-three series will take place from February 25 to 27. The Semifinal series will be played March 4 to 6, and the Canada West Final series will take place from March 11 to 13. As it stands, the U SPORTS National Championship, hosted by UPEI, is scheduled to run in Charlottetown, PEI from March 24 to 27. The next few weeke will be about playoff positions, jockeying for positions, and the race to make the playoffs, so this should be a few few weeks. Strap yourselves in, folks, because this is where the ride gets wild!

The Last Word

I said my piece about UBC above, so I'm not going to get into it here again. What I will say is that, for everything that has gone on, I'm surprised that we haven't seen more widespread outbreaks among teams, especially in knowing how transmissable the Omicron variant of the virus is. The only thing I will say is to remain vigilant, wear your masks, get your vaccinations, and don't take unnecessary risks.

There are literally two months between today and the start of the U SPORTS National Championship, and the last thing I want to see is another National Championship cancelled. With the previous championships being cancelled, a third cancellation would mean that there's an entire generation of women who may have been good enough to win, but we'll never know if that was the case.

We, as a society, owe it to these athletes who have sacrificed so much to entertain us while they earn their educations, so please don't get complacent when it comes to this virus. We have a long way to go still, but we can help our university-aged athletes reach the U SPORTS podium by remaining vigilant in our fight against COVID-19. Let's make that happen!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 22 January 2022

Taking School Outside

You likely won't recognize the rink from this angle, but that's because this rink usually isn't sitting where you currently see it. That's the overhead view of Blakeslee Stadium on the Minnesota State University-Mankato campus where Hockey Day in Minnesota is being celebrated this year! There have been a pile of games played on this rink as the week built up this weekend where the Mavericks men's team will battle the University of St. Thomas Tommies tonight before the women take centerstage tomorrow as the Mavericks women's team will battle the Tommies women's team! Who's ready to head outdoors?

On what turned out to be a snowy night in Mankato, the USCHO second-ranked Mavericks men's hockey team downed the Tommies by a 7-1 score as the Mavericks continue to roll this season. Paced by David Silye's hat trick, the Arnprior, Ontario native scored the first two goals of the game and the final goal of the game to push his season total to five, but he'll always remember this game.

"I wouldn’t change a thing,” Minnesota State center David Silye told Dean Spiros of TwinCities Pioneer Press. "That's the way it should be playing outside. It was so special. Coming up the hill for warmups and seeing the crowd, the snowfall. It was just picture perfect. One thing coach Hastings told us was to make sure to take it all in."

Freshman Keenan Rancier, a Victoria, BC native, played part of the game between the pipes for the Mavericks, but it was Dryden McKay who started and earned the win for Minnesota State-Mankato. That win was important as it was the 98th of his NCAA career, putting him one back of Scott Clemmensen who is third all-time with 99 wins after starring with Boston College. Beyond Clemmensen sits Steve Shields, who won 111 games for Michigan, and Marty Turco, who won 124 games for Michigan.

Minnesota State-Mankato has eight games remaining before the CCHA playoffs begin, so it would appear that Shields' record may be out of reach. Clemmensen's record, though, could be broken next weekend at home as the Mavericks host the Arizona State Sun Devils in a pair of games on Friday and Saturday. As it stands, McKay is 23-4-0 on the season after the win tonight, and those numbers alone suggest how good this Mavericks team truly is.

There was no official announcement made about the game's attendance, but it seemed like the stands were packed for this game, suggesting that there may have been more than 10,000 people watching the first Hockey Day in Minnesota played on a college campus and in a football stadium. On top of that fact, this game was also the first Division-I men's game played outdoors and televised on Hockey Day in Minnesota. There were many stoppages to clear snow from the rink to allow the men to play, but it didn't seem to deter those in attendance from having a good time!

For those looking for comparisons, it felt a little like the very first Winter Classic as Pittsburgh and Buffalo battled the snow as much as each other in that game, but the overall aesthetics of the game actually felt enhanced by the snow. Seeing these players going all out in the falling snow as they battled for a win looked like a heckuva good time tonight despite the snow that made gameplay a little difficult at times.

"To be part of this was pretty special for so many people," Mavericks coach Mike Hastings told reporters. "It was a good night on the rink and an incredible event."

Seeing these players and coaches find a little joy in the game by playing outdoors makes me smile. This is the part of hockey that gets eaten up by the business of hockey where the only thing that matters is winning and making money, so hearing a comment like that from Coach Hastings makes me realize that there is still good built into the game. We just need to find it and cultivate it a little more often.

Well done to everyone in Minnesota who came together to celebrate this weekend. If you're in or near the area, head down for the women's game on Sunday and enjoy hockey the way it was played when we were kids - outdoors and in the cold where you can see your breath and the steam rising off your skin after a good shift on the ice!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!