Friday, 24 March 2023

Joe Biden: Honourary Canadian

There are certain stereotypes that Canadians simply can't shake when it comes to the rest of the world's perception of us. Yes, there are likely too many Tim Hortons restaurants per capita, but we'd really like the chain to owned by a Canadian and not a Brazilian restaurant conglomerate. Yes, it's cold up here for long stretches of time, but we embrace winter as part of our identity. Yes, hockey is the national sport, but so is lacrosse and, no, not everyone plays one or both. Yes, French is a nationally-recognized official language, but not everyone can parlez-vous with the best of them.

For years, Canadians have been stereotypically-identified a numbers of ways - we apologize for everything, we're too polite, we say "eh" a lot, and we apparently pronounce words like "out" and "about" as "oot" and aboot" - and we're pretty accepting that this happens. However, if you really want to test someone's "Canadian-ness", all you have to do is crack a joke about the Toronto Maple Leafs!

If you've read this far, you likely know that the Toronto Maple Leafs are a polarizing team in that people either like them or hate them. There's not a lot of gray area in between, it seems, and the historical nature of this polarization extends back to the team's Original Six days for Canadian fans. Leafs fans will go out of their way to defend their beloved team while those who detest the Leafs will make that known in no uncertain terms as well.

Being that I am of the latter group - I live by the ABT mantra of "Anybody But Toronto" - hearing US President Joe Biden's comments today will speaking to the Canadian government brought a smile to my face. Here is Joe Biden's speech where he references the Leafs.
I'll give Biden a pass for referencing his wife's commitment to her hometown Philadelphia Flyers, but he could have just stopped at "except the Leafs". All jokes aside, Biden making the crack in Ottawa in front of sitting Members of Parliament from across Canada was a pretty fun moment during the political theatre to which Canada was treated over the last couple of days.

Because President Joe Biden took a shot at the Leafs on a very public stage today, he's earned himself an Honourary Canadian badge. That doesn't give him any additional rights or privileges, of course, but Joe Biden can now crack jokes about the Leafs at any time without Canadians giving him a puzzled look. Make a very public Leafs joke on Canadian soil? You too can earn yourself an Honourary Canadian badge! I feel like the low entry point for this badge might mean we're going to need a lot more badges made in a short time!

Like him or hate him, Joe Biden is welcome here at HBIC thanks to his membership to the Honourary Canadian club after cracking a great joke about the always-hated Leafs!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 23 March 2023

The Hockey Show - Episode 548

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns tonight to recap all the National Championship action from across the continent as we had Canadian universities competing for U SPORTS titles and we had a Manitoba college looking for another national championship! Beyond that, there were all sorts of stories from the hockey world that need to be discussed as things get interesting locally, nationally, and internationally on the hockey scene once more! It's another busy show with lots of news, get ready for hockey chatter at 530pm CT!

There was lots to cheer about if you were following the action at the U SPORTS National Championships. Teebz and Jason will recap both the men's tournament in PEI and the women's tournament in Montreal to get you caught up on which teams stand atop their respective mountains. Beyond that, they'll look at the ACHA Division-II championship tournament where the ACC Cougars of Brandon were vying for a third-straight national title, the moment of insanity at the U SPORTS men's hockey tournament, the QMJHL banning fighting, the NHL switching its on-ice jersey partner, the IIHF upholding its suspension for Russia and Belarus, and the ongoing hypocrisy of the NHL being inclusive! All of this and more will be discussed tonight on 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 look at big winners, bad scraps, poor quality, ongoing bans, complete stupidity, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the web stream!

PODCAST: March 23, 2023: Episode 548

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Status Quo?

The IIHF released a statement today that saw the organization extend the suspension of the Russian and Belarusian involvement in IIHF competitions. I don't think this should come as a surprise to anyone considering that Russia is still bombing Ukraine and Belarus is still siding with Russia, but it's nice to see the IIHF doing the right thing when it comes being part of a global community. Some will say that this decreases the number of highly-skilled teams at events, and, while true, it also shows that the IIHF isn't devoid of human morals and ethics. I'll take less skill for doing the right thing any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

The official statement from the IIHF reads,
"Based on a detailed risk assessment from a renowned company that specializes in assessing risks due to various global challenges, the IIHF Council determined that it is not yet safe to reincorporate the Russian and Belarusian Teams back into IIHF Competitions, and that it will not be safe for the upcoming 2023/2024 IIHF Championship season. Therefore, the IIHF will move forward with the 2023/2024 IIHF Championship season without the Russian and Belarusian Teams."
While I'm sure there could be safety risks for the players from Russia and Belarus if they were to participate in games against Ukraine's allies, let's just lay our cards on the table as say that the IIHF would have looked foolish allowing Russia and Belarus to participate in international hockey tournaments while the Ukrainian teams don't even have a rink in which they can practice. The meeting to determine the extension of Russia's and Belarus' suspensions on the international hockey stage should have lasted all of three mimutes when it comes to doing the right thing.

Personally, I think that Russia and Belarus should be forced to earn their way back to the top division in each level of hockey they wish to participate. If a country is going to go ahead and forfeit its goodwill by invading another country or supporting a country who invaded another country, I say they forfeit any standing within the sports world as well. Let's make Russia and Belarus start in Division 3B or something and have them earn their way back to the top division. Don't like that? Leave Ukraine. And don't go back.

In fact, let's just help the IIHF out with this press release:
That seems appropriate considering current global affairs, doesn't it?

I know there are people reading this right now who are saying, "Teebz, the athletes have nothing to do with what's happening in Ukraine," and there's a case to be made for that, I suppose. However, I'm not here to split hairs and determine how much guilt one should be assigned simply for being born Russian or Belarusian. If your government has decided to partake in an illegal invasion of another country, those are the breaks for being of that nationality.

For now, though, I'm good with not seeing a Russian or Belarusian team on the ice against any other teams. They need to earn their way back into the good graces of the global community, and I commend the IIHF for extending the suspensions to Russian and Belarusian teams from IIHF events.

Honestly, has anyone actually missed them? No? Moving on then.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Not A Fanatic Over This

When it was announced that Adidas wasn't renewing its deal with the NHL to be the on-ice outfitter for all 32 NHL teams, there was some hope that the NHL would come to its senses and return to companies that specialize in hockey as opposed to those who spread themselves into "athletic fashion". Adidas' authentic, on-ice NHL jerseys weren't bad quality if they were viewed in a vacuum, but the price point combined with the products put out by CCM, Bauer, and Nike made Adidas jerseys the worst of the bunch: slightly ahead of Reebok's jerseys, but a long way from being what traditional hockey fans coveted. Sorry, but it's true.

After the NHL allowed sports merchandise giant Fanatics to get involved in producing their merchandise, there was a noticeable lowering of both quality and quality control in Fanatics' offerings, and more and more fans began to receive products with mistakes, incorrect orders, or cancellation of orders altogether. Yes, there was a difference between a CCM on-ice, authentic jersey and a replica jersey, but the latter wasn't marketed with buzzwords and jargon where "authentic" lost all meaning.

Sadly, the news today that the NHL signed a new ten-year deal with Fanatics for Fanatics to be the on-ice uniform partner of the NHL was received virtually by the entire NHL fanbase as a significant mistake made by the NHL. And I couldn't agree more.

CCM was dedicated to making hockey equipment and apparel as one of its main product lines. Adidas doesn't do that, and Fanatics certainly does not. While the NHL will point at the jersey templates currently being used and proclaim "Nothing will change!", there's no denying that the quality of NHL jerseys DID change when Adidas and Fanatics took over making jerseys just as Reebok changed the quality of jerseys after they acquired CCM, KOHO, and Jofa.

As a guy who has a closet of hockey jerseys, I struggle to understand why the NHL would opt to name a second-tier sports merchandise company as their on-ice uniform partner when the examples of Fanatics' shortfalls in the sports merchandise world have been documented over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

The good news is that I likely won't have any new Fanatics jerseys in my closet, so my disposable income should increase. The bad news is that the disposable income I may have used on a new jersey will likely take a bigger hit as I scour eBay and other auction sites for quality jerseys made by CCM. And if I may be blunt, I'm certain I won't buy any of the newer designs that have been introduced for my own collection simply because there's nothing to convince me that these Adidas or Fanatics jerseys, designed as they are, are worth the price at which they've been set.

There's an expectation that an official uniform will feel like it's meant to stand up to the elements of the game. If it feels like a paper bag or stretches like spandex, one has every right to question the quality of the materials, the craftsmanship, and the design. When the prices of these uniforms are hitting $400 per uniform, expect fans to exercise that right to question the quality of what they're buying, specifically if it comes from an inferior sports merchandiser as I've shown above. I try to believe that the NHL is still a league that cares about the sports experience for its fans, but I've very apparent that it will always be a business far before it's anything else.

I'll still watch the NHL for the hockey because I'm a fan, but don't expect me to wear or own the gear. You lost me at "Fanatics", NHL.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 20 March 2023

Actions Have Consequences

There comes a point in every person's life where doing dumb things just gets old quickly. The variety of dumb things being done will go from mundane to wild, but when it comes to a disabled person's wheelchair it seems pretty obvious that one shouldn't mess around with it. Carson Briere somehow skipped that life lesson during his 23 years on the planet, and it seems that his actions on March 11 when he pushed Sydney Benes' unoccupied wheelchair down a flight stairs will come with some serious consequences thanks to Erie, Pennsylvania police. In knowing the police are involved, let this be a lesson to everyone: actions have consequences, and it doesn't matter what your last name is, who your dad is, or who he works for when it comes to making things right.

According to this Associated Press article, "[t]hree misdemeanor charges were filed Monday" against Briere and Mercyhurst lacrosse player Patrick Carrozzi over the March 11 incident at Sullivan's bar. Charges of criminal mischief, criminal conspiracy to commit mischief, and disorderly conduct were filed against the two Mercyhurst students - Briere and Carrozzi - and they will appear in an Erie, Pennsylvania courtroom on May 22.

Some may roll their eyes at these charges, but "[p]olice say their actions posed a potential danger to anyone coming up the stairs, while also creating a hazardous condition by blocking the staircase." It should also be noted that Miss Benes' wheelchair will require some significant repairs: damage to the left brake handle, a broken right arm rest's plastic molding, a bent a rear handle, and damage that caused the wheels to drag when moving forward. For Sydney, we're talking about her mobility being limited thanks to Briere's and Carrozzi's actions, so this is more than just some dumb prank or an inconvenience.

Eric Palattella of Erie Times-News noted that "a conviction for a second-degree misdemeanor carries a prison sentence of up to two years and a fine of up to $5,000 and a conviction for a summary offense carries a maximum prison sentence of 90 days and a $300 fine" in the state of Pennsylvania, and that "[c]onvictions for misdemeanor and summary offenses can also lead to probation, particularly if the defendants have no prior record."

While both Carson and his father, Daniel Briere, released a joint statement on Saturday through the Philadelphia Flyers, there was a glaring omission in the statement. The statement read, "I am deeply sorry for my behavior on Saturday. There is no excuse for my actions, and I will do whatever I can to make up for this serious lack of judgment."

Why is he sorry for his behaviour, yet can't apologize to the woman whose life has been signficantly affected by that behaviour? Why can he do whatever to make up for his lack of judgment, but can't reach out to the young woman whose life has been dramatically changed due to that lack of judgment? If you're going to show remorse and make things right, it starts with the word "sorry" in the direction of the person who was affected by whatever was done.

I'm not saying that an apology would erase the charges that were filed by the police against him, but it's amazing how taking responsibility in the eyes of the person suffering because of one's stupidity goes a long way. Sydney Benes isn't asking for an apology, but she shouldn't have to ask either. This should be a moment where Carson Briere pledges to be better to Miss Benes directly, and follows that up by paying for the repairs to her wheelchair. Those actions would certainly prove that he's remorseful for the "lack of judgment" he showed, and it might buy him some goodwill in the court's eyes when he appears at the end of May.

Perhaps Carson has alread reached out to Sydney privately to do this. Perhaps he's making arrangements to cover the repair costs for her privately as well. One would hope that happened, but let's just say that my faith in privileged hockey people has been tested far too often for me to believe that it has. My hope is that it happened, but my brain is saying that I shouldn't hold my breath on this one.

I'm not asking for Briere to be found guilty through vengeance or anger. Based on what he did, he should be found guilty, and it's very likely that he'll get probation based on what Eric Palattella wrote above regarding Briere having no prior record. Briere, though, should be found guilty to send a message that if you do stupid things, you need to be responsible for those things. Actions, as we all know, have consequences, and the consequences of pushing an unoccupied wheelchair down the stairs at a bar should result in a very sobering slap on the wrist, an apology directly to Miss Benes, and paying for any and all repairs required for her wheelchair to operate as it did before Briere touched it.

Part of being young is making mistakes. The key is whether or not one learns from those mistakes, and this moment is a prime example where a guilty conviction for these misdemeanors would allow Carson Briere to learn a great deal about being mature, being responsible for one's actions, and being a good human being.

We'll see what comes of this case on May 22.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 19 March 2023

The Rundown - U SPORTS Finals

The field at this year's National Women's Hockey Championship had been reduced to six teams with three games closing out the 2022-23 season today. We'd see a consolation final, a bronze medal game, and the gold medal game when it came to action on the ice, and all three games looked to be fantastic in terms of the two teams scheduled to meet. The defending champions would have a shot a defending their title as they were in the gold medal final, and we saw an eighth-seed advance to the gold medal game for the first time in the history of this tournament. If you wanted storylines, drama, intrigue, and incredible hockey action, Montreal was the place to be on Sunday, so let's check out how this season ended on The Rundown!

Just as a reminder, here are today's games via the brackets.
11am will see the fifth-place game played as Toronto and StFX meet in that game. The bronze-medal game goes at 3pm ET as the UBC Thunderbirds and Montreal Carabins tangle in that contest. The gold medal game will be played at 7pm ET betweeen the defending champion Concordia Stingers and the Mount Royal Cougars. Both the RSEQ and Canada West have a shot at capturing two medals today, so let's get into the action!

The StFX X-Women met the Toronto Varsity Blues in the fifth-place game on Sunday morning. StFX defeated Nipissing on Saturday after falling to UBC on Friday. Toronto advanced after downing UNB on Saturday after they had fallen to Mount Royal on Thursday. One of these two teams will leave Montreal with two wins and a fifth-place finish after this final game. Jamie Johnson was in the crease for StFX while Erica Fryer was between the pipes once again for Toronto.

This game got a quick start after StFX was called for a penalty just a couple minutes in, giving Toronto an early advantage. Kaitlyn McKnight fired a puck into the slot area that didn't get to the net, but Lauren Macdonnell cleaned up the front of the net by chipping the puck past Johnson at 2:56, and Toronto was on the board with a 1-0 score! StFX shook that early goal off and looked to even the game on two power-plays, but the Varsity Blues killed those off. StFX would be called for a penalty late in the period, and Toronto capitalized again when Taylor Trussler found Emma Potter cross-ice for a quick shot that Johnson stopped, but Sophie Grawbarger tapped in the rebound with 55 seconds to play to make it 2-0 for Toronto. That two-goal lead held into the break with Toronto up 7-6 in shots.

Thanks to a late penalty in the first period, Toronto started with the power-play in the second period which saw them increase their lead again. Sophie Grawbarger centered to Emma Potter who went shelf on Johnson just 57 seconds into the frame, and the Varsity Blues were up 3-0! Toronto slowly began to exert their influence on this period as they found more ways to get pucks to the net, but Johnson did her part in keeping her team as close as possible. Toronto missed out on a power-play opportunity, but they kept the pressure on as Isabella Greco centered to Kaitlyn McKnight who chipped the puck up and over Johnson to make it 4-0 at 15:29! StFX missed out on a power-play chance before the end of the period, and that 4-0 lead for Toronto carried into the intermission with Toronto leading 17-11 in shots.

The third period saw the Varsity Blues do as much as they could to keep their defensive zone clear of StFX chances as they dialed back their offence. The X-Women pressed to try to break the goose egg on their side of the scoreboard, but the Varsity Blues showed that they could lock down their zone. Two power-plays were killed, and a StFX penalty saw Toronto control possession to help them run out the clock as the Varsity Blues finished in fifth-place thanks to their 4-0 win over the StFX X-Women. Erica Fryer stopped 16 shots for the tournament's first shutout as she won her second game in the tournament while Jamie Johnson stopped 14 shots in her Sunday morning effort.

Toronto finished the tournament in fifth-place, and StFX will return to Antigonish, Nova Scotia as the sixth-best team in the nation!

Highlights from this game are below!

The fifth-seeded Montreal Carabins brought the home crowd with them to the bronze medal game on Sunday afternoon as they met the UBC Thunderbirds. Montreal arrived in the bronze medal game after falling to Mount Royal on Saturday while UBC was playing in the game after Concordia defeated them in the semifinal. One team will wake up Monday with hardware while the other will look forward to next season as the fourth-best team. Aube Racine was in the Montreal net once again while Kate Stuart, in her final university game, got the start for the UBC Thunderbirds.

Quick starts were a key part of UBC's success all season, and they turned that trick today as Montreal was whistled for an early penalty. On the power-play, Annalise Wong's long shot from the point found the back of the net thanks, in part, to the great screen set by Grace Elliott in front of Racine, and the Thunderbirds were up 1-0 just 2:44 into the game! Montreal wasn't going to be deterred by that early setback as they pushed back against the T-Birds, but the Carabins couldn't crack the UBC defence. A late UBC penalty didn't help Montreal, and we'd hit the break with UBC leading 1-0 and holding a 6-5 edge in shots.

The defensive game continued into the second period where shots that reached the goaltenders were few. An early UBC penalty was killed off, and the T-Birds found some momentum with that effort as Kennesha Miswaggon's shot from the half-boards was stopped by a body in front, but Mackenzie Kordic got a whack at the loose puck and she put it by Racine at 7:45 to give UBC the 2-0 lead! The Thunderbirds were forced to kill off another penalty before the end of the period, and that allowed them to take the two-goal cushion into the second intermission despite Montreal leading 11-9 in shots.

For everything that Montreal was doing in the previous 40 minutes, they doubled their efforts once more which paid off nicely. First, Mylène Lefebvre went between her legs with a centering pass to Justine Pelletier, and Pelletier buried her shot from the slot at 4:28 to cut the UBC lead to 2-1. 2:55 after that goal, Montreal was buzzing around the UBC net again when Amelie Poiré-Lehoux held the puck long enough to get Stuart to overplay her position, and Poiré-Lehoux centered to Jessika Boulanger who crashed the crease and tapped home the puck home to make it 2-2 at the 7:23 mark!

UBC would regroup and settle down, though, as Montreal continued to press for the winner. We'd see that winner come at 16:46 when Kennesha Miswaggon's long point shot was redirected by Ireland Perrott in front which Racine stopped, but Perrott chipped her own rebound past the Montreal netminder on her second attempt to put UBC up 3-2! Montreal went into desperation mode with the goalie pulled and had some chances, but, as stated, that Perrott goals was the winner as UBC earned the bronze medal with a 3-2 win over Montreal! Kate Stuart stopped 20 shots in the win while Aube Racine was good on ten shots in just missing out on the medals.

UBC finished as the U SPORTS National Women's Hockey Championship bronze medalist for the second time in their history while Montreal will finish as the fourth-best team in the nation after today's result.

Highlights of this game are below!

For the first time in their short-but-storied history, the Mount Royal Cougars would play for the U SPORTS gold medal. They had won a number of ACAC gold medals in their history, but this was their first shot at capturing Canadian university hockey's highest honour. The Concordia Stingers had been in their position before as they had three gold medals to their name, and were the first repeat champions back in 1998 and 1999. Of course, they were looking to complete that feat twice as they entered the game as the defending gold medalists after their win in PEI one year earlier.

Would we see one of the newest programs in U SPORTS women's hockey upset the defending champs or would the Stingers be golden for the second year in a row? The Mount Royal Cougars had Kaitlyn Ross in their net to help answer that question while the Concordia Stingers leaned on Alice Philbert for the second-straight year for gold medal-level goaltending.

The first period saw the champs establish their game, but the upstart Cougars would find their skating legs as well. There were a handful of chances seen at both ends of the ice, and Mount Royal survived a penalty call against the tournament's leading power-play. If there was any fear of making a mistake by either team in the opening period, it didn't show whatsoever, but we'd hit the break with neither side lighting a lamp as the 0-0 score was intact despite Concordia holding a 10-6 edge in shots.

It wouldn't take long to find a goal in the second period as the champs struck early. A turnover led to a Chloé Gendreau breakaway, and she went forehand-backhand and through the wickets of Ross to put the Stingers up 1-0 just 1:31 into the frame! The game settled back into its first-period look as both teams looked to capitalize where they could, and two-straight Concordia penalties were killed off as Mount Royal missed on some good opportunities.

However, the Cougars would get one back before the end of the period as Tori Williams' blast from the point got past a screened Philbert at 16:45, and we were squared up at 1-1! Concordia would escape another penalty unfazed, and we'd go into the second intermission tied at 1-1 with Concordia holding a 17-15 shot margin.

If you were expecting a low-event third period, you were sadly mistaken. Breanne Trotter got herself open long enough to whack home an Athena Hauck pass from just outside the crease to the left of Philbert, and Mount Royal went up 2-1 at 2:02. A very questionable penalty shot was awarded to Rosalie Bégin-Cyr minutes later, and she made good on her shot by dragging the puck across the crease from right to left before going high on a moving Ross to tie the game at 2-2 at the 4:27 mark. A penalty to Emma Bergesen at the midpoint of the period allowed the Stingers' power-play to go to work as Chloé Gendreau took a sharp angle shot that Ross stopped, but Megan Burean-Gagnon buried the rebound from in front at 11:55 to put the Stingers up 3-2.

As time ticked down, it almost felt inevitable that the Stingers, with their championship experience, would simply let time run out on this game. Mount Royal pushed for chances, but it seemed the Stingers had their number even with Ross on the bench for the extra attacker. With the fans going bananas in the crowd and the clock hitting single digits in time, it looked like the Concordia Stingers were about to celebrate their second-consecutive gold medal victory. Note all the foreshadowing I'm doing.

With time winding down, Athena Hauck pushed the puck past one Stinger to get off the half-boards to where Breanne Trotter one-timed the puck off Hauck's possesion at the net, and the high shot got past a screened Philbert high on the blocker side and rested inside the net with 1.8 seconds to play in the game! The Mount Royal Cougars had tied the game at 3-3 and we would need overtime to determine a gold medalist at the 2023 U SPORTS National Women's Hockey Championship!

After settling my own nerves, the teams took to the ice for the 5-on-5, sudden-death overtime period. Concordia had a few chances through the opening minutes only to be turned away by Kaitlyn Ross. It can't be stated enough that Ross allowed her team to skate with renewed confidence all tournament, and that shone through when Breanne Trotter came down the right side, took a shot that glanced off the defender in front of her and went to Alice Philbert's right where Emma Bergesen kept her stick on the ice despite being checked, and she swept the puck past Philbert before she could recover! The Mount Royal Cougars had scored in overtime to win the game 4-3 over the Concordia Stingers!

With the celebration on, it needs to be said in one full statement:
Kaitlyn Ross was sensational in making 29 saves to backstop the Cougars to the gold medal while Alice Philbert did everything she could to stop 20 shots in helping Concordia earn a silver medal.

Not much else needs to be said about how this game was played, but the highlights of this gold medal game are below.

Final Standings

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I'm not beyond excited about Mount Royal's win. I've been privy to watch them grow and evolve over their short history in Canada West, and to see them stand atop the mountain just ten years after they joined Canada West is certainly an incredible feat. However, all eight teams on this list could have gold medalists based on play this weekend, and we were witness to some incredible hockey. Congratulations to all eight teams for outstanding seasons!

Growth Of A Champion

Mount Royal is a team that went 8-17-3 in their inaugural Canada West season, finishing in eighth-place with 50 goals-for and 89 goals-against. Compare that to ten years later when the Cougars went 19-6-3, finished third in Canada West, and scored 76 goals-for and only surrendered 46 goals-against. It's taken ten long years to get to this point, but the Cougars have always been the "David" to every other team's "Goliath" when it came to Canada West play. On a national scale, I'm not sure players like Chrissy Hodgson, Tanika Dawson, or Kendall Kilgour even thought about playing the likes of Toronto, Montreal, or Concordia.

Seeing them make their first playoff series in 2017 against Manitoba was a huge step forward for the program. They lost both games in that quarterfinal series, but they showed incredible growth. In 2018, they lost both games in the quarterfinal to UBC, but UBC needed overtime in both games to send the Cougars home. In 2019, they finished in fifth-place for the first time ever, and won their first-ever playoff game on February 16 by a 3-0 score over Saskatchewan before falling in three games. And in 2020, they finished in fourth-place, won their first playoff series against the Regina Cougars, and upset the Calgary Dinos to earn their first berth in the Canada West Final. Oh, and they went to Nationals for the first team as the seventh-seeded team, and upset the second-ranked Toronto Varsity Blues before the tournament was called for pandemic reasons.

Forget upward trajectory - they literally are the graph above. With every passing year, the Cougars improved by leaps and bounds until they finally reached this outcome today. Watching this growth and evolution fills me with pride because a handful of us recognized Mount Royal's immense potential for greatness in 2017 when they made their first playoff appearance. We knew it was only the first step in the Cougars becoming a tour de force in Canada West, and they took that final step in becoming the best team in Canada today.

It has truly been an honour to watch the Cougars develop their program to what it has become today, and I'm excited to see where it goes from here! There will be a target on Mount Royal's backs next season - another first for a program playing their first U SPORTS game just ten years ago! - as they'll be the defending champions.

Seven Other Teams

Take nothing away from the Concordia Stingers who were a mere 1.8 seconds from a back-to-back championship celebration. The Stingers showed that they too have the hearts of champions by dispatching the Nipissing Lakers before downing the UBC Thunderbirds to advance to the final. They may look back on today's game and wonder how they could have let victory slip through their fingers, but they should be proud of how well they played considering how difficult it is to repeat as champions. The Concordia Stingers have should have nothing to regret.

The UBC Thunderbirds deserve some kudos as well as the 2023 U SPORTS bronze medalists. They battled through arguably the most difficult conference in U SPORTS women's hockey to emerge victorious as the Canada West champions before downing the StFX X-Women in their quarterfinal game. They gave the defending champions a good run in their semifinal game, but the Stingers overcame some adversity to defeat the Thunderbirds. While it sucks to lose that game, the T-Birds rebounded well by bouncing back after losing the lead against Montreal only to claim their hardware with which they'll return to Vancouver. Well done, UBC, in earning those bronze medals!

To Montreal, Toronto, StFX, UNB, and Nipissing, you were all worthy competitors this weekend, and you rightfully belong among the top-eight teams in Canada. This might have been the most wide-open tournament we've seen in some time at a National Championship, and a bounce or two that went differently could have altered the results entirely. Make no mistake that you're all worthy of praise, though. This weekend's games were some of the most entertaining I've seen all year long! Thank you for your dedication, your skills, and your efforts in capping this season off with an exclamation point!

Delayed Postings

Some of you may be asking why it took me so long to produce the last three days of The Rundown articles, and I can tell you that finding clips of goals and turning them into highlight reels with graphics to begin and end each highlight reel is taxing work when it comes to the amount of time needed. That doesn't include doing the recaps either, so let's just say that I've put a lot of work in behind the scenes this weekend.

Don't view this as a complaint - I want highlight reels for all games produced if possible. It seems that U SPORTS and CBC didn't follow through on that request, though, so I took it upon myself to make those highlight reels for all eleven games. If the athletic departments could do it for their schools or the conferences do it for their schools, that would have helped immensely. I know I'm screaming into a void right now, but being a one-man operation limits the speed at which I can produce articles. I guess what I'm saying is help a brother out once in a while!

The Last Word

Every year, I say that I'm not sure how long I'll keep doing this only to find myself knee-deep in Canada West women's hockey once again. What I do know is that the U SPORTS National Championship in 2024 moves to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and I assure you that I will not be missing that tournament after having experienced tournaments in London, Ontario and Charlottetown, PEI. Because of this fact, let's make it official: The Rundown will be back next year for more Canada West women's hockey action!

In order to get everyone ready for Saskatoon's turn at hosting this event, here is the U SPORTS video to promote the 2024 U SPORTS National Women's Hockey Championship hosted by Saskatchewan!
Will the Mount Royal Cougars be there to defend their title? Will we see another new team put their name on the Golden Path Trophy for the first time? Who will be the seven teams to join the Saskatchewan Huskies at the tournament? All those questions will be answered next season, meaning that there's only one last thing to say this season:


Until next season, enjoy your summers! See you in October!

Saturday, 18 March 2023

The Rundown - U SPORTS Semifinals

Four games had been played over Thursday and Friday. Four teams would still be in contention for the gold medal while four teams looked to play out the rest of their seasons with pride on the consolation side. The winners knew that nothing was going to be easy through the semifinals while those who suffered a loss in their quarterfinal games needed to rebound with a big effort if they were going to play on Sunday. The 2023 U SPORTS National Women's Hockey Championship moved into its semifinal stage on Saturday, so let's see what happened in these games on The Rundown!

Just as a reminder, here's how the bracket looked on Saturday.
Let's not waste any time as we'll start with the consolation semifinal matchups before jumping into the championship semifinal games.

Saturday's first game was one of the two consolation semifinals as the fourth-ranked UNB Reds met the first-ranked Toronto Varsity Blues. Both teams were looking to bounce back after their quarterfinal setbacks - UNB to Montreal and Toronto to Mount Royal. In UNB's tournament last season, they did fall to the OUA's Nipissing Lakers, so they were looking to even their record against OUA teams to 1-1 with a win today. Toronto, meanwhile, was 4-2 all-time against AUS teams, so they were looking to add another win to that total. Kendra Woodland was in net for the Reds while the Varsity Blues turned to Erica Fryer once again!

Toronto came out hungry as they took the play to UNB, and that would result in an early tally as Lauren Omoto's shot deflected off teammate Sophie Grawbarger past Woodland at 2:24 as the Varsity Blues went up 1-0. UNB seemed to perk up after finding themselves down early as they began to push the pace against Toronto. While they'd get pucks to the net, nothing was getting by Fryer until later in the frame when Ahsley Stratton showed all sorts of hustle to get by a check, center a pass to Tamina Kehler, and get to the net to sweep the rebound off Kehler's shot into the back of the net at 17:20 to make it a 1-1 game! We'd head to the break locked at that 1-1 score with UNB up 8-3 in shots.

The second period saw Toronto down a player early as they were caught breaking the rules, but UNB could not capitalize. Minutes later, UNB was shorthanded, but Toronto couldn't make that work for themselves. UNB was again the more aggressive team when it came to getting shots, but Toronto was doing a good job at establishing their systems with zone time. That's how they took the lead when Katy McKenna centered a pass from behind the net to Alli McKeown, and McKeown's quick shot got up and under the bar past Woodland at 18:32 for the 2-1 Toronto lead! At the second pause, Toronto held the one-goal advantage despite UNB holding a 19-9 edge in shots.

As the third period began, Toronto decided to make things harder on UNB when Sophie Grawbarger fed Emma Potter coming into the slot from the half-boards, and Potter found the smallest of spaces past Woodland to make it 3-1 just 40 seconds into the frame! UNB knew that they needed to respond, but Toronto was quite content to make things difficult by disrupting passes and shots, getting into lanes, and playing stout defence. With the UNB net empty and a Toronto player in the sin bin, the Varsity Blues iced when Nikki McDonald's 200-foot shot from her own defensive corner hit the open cage as the Toronto Varsity Blues defeated the UNB Reds by a 4-1 score! Erica Fryer picked up the win with a 24-save performance while Kendra Woodland's exceptional university career comes to an end after a game where she stopped 13 shots.

With the victory, Toronto advances to the consolation final and will await the winner of the StFX-Nipissing game. UNB's 2023 National Championship unfortunately ends with their second loss as they'll begin to prepare for next season.

Highlights of this game are below!

The seventh-ranked StFX X-Women met the sixth-seeded Nipissing Lakers in the second consolation semifinal. StFX fell to UBC one day earlier while Nipissing fell to Concordia, so both teams were looking to get back into the win column. These two teams have never met at a National Championship, but the Lakers are 1-0 against AUS teams after they beat UNB last season. StFX, meanwhile, the X-Women are 8-7 all-time against OUA teams in their previous 15 appearances, so one of these teams would end up with a .500 record against the opposition's conference. Jamie Johnson got the start for the X-Women while Chloe Marshall was in the blue paint for Nipissing.

I'm not certain anyone was expecting the goals in this game to be as plentiful as they were, but Madison Laberge got a friendly bounce as she centered a pass off a StFX defender's skate that ended up behind Johnson just 49 seconds into the game as Nipissing went up 1-0. Less than two minutes later, Lea McLeod circled to the top of the zone where she threw a high wrister towards the net, and it caught the crossbar and bounced down into the net behind Marshall as StFX tied the game at 1-1 at the 2:25 mark!

There was a pause in the goal scoring as the teams exchanged penalties, but a 4-on-4 situation allowed Lauren Dabrowski to jump into the play where she ripped a wrister past Marshall at 15:58 to make it 2-1 for StFX. And 2:54 after that, Maggy Burbidge forced a turnover before playing give-and-go with Lea McLeod, and Burbidge potted the 3-1 marker at 18:52 to send the X-Women into the break with the two-goal lead and a 15-4 margin in shots.

For all the goals seen in the opening period, the second period was all about the parade to the penalty box as the two teams combined for eight minor penalties - four each - in the frame. Surprisingly, there was only one goal scored, and it came early while Nipissing had a player in the sin bin. Vivian Hinch's long shot through traffic dented twine behind Marshall at the 2:30 mark, and StFX went up 4-1 in this game. Again, with the number of visitors in the penalty box, neither team seemed to be able to grab momentum despite the X-Women getting their fair share of shots on the Nipissing net. The three-goal lead carried into the second intermission, though, as StFX held a 31-9 advantage in shots. Not a typo!

Time was obviously working against Nipissing as the third period started, and they lost two minutes to a shorthanded situation. However, Katie Chomiak closed the deficit slightly when she wired a shot from the slot past Johnson at 11:31 to make it 4-2! StFX responded on the next shift, though, as Chloe Vukosa and Maggy Burbidge broke in on Marshall on 2-on-no-one, and Burbidge finished the effort with another goal at 12:17 to make it 5-2 for StFX! Nipissing, not to be outdone, then scored on the next shift as well as Katie Chomiak got credit for the final touch in a scrum around Johnson to make it 5-3 at 13:01!

Nipissing head coach Darren Turcotte threw caution to the wind at that point as he was looking to cut the deficit by pulling his netminder with StFX whistled for a penalty, but that led to another Maggy Burbidge goal as she capped off her hat trick at 16:12. Turcotte, not deterred by the score, tried to prompt a comeback by pulling his goalie again, but the X-Women would put a final dagger into the Lakers' season with Kamdyn Switzer's empty-netter with 43 seconds to play. The final score showed the StFX X-Women defeated the Nipissing Lakers by a 7-3 score. Jamie Johnson picked up the win by stopping 12 shots while Chloe Marshall's fantastic university career ends on a day when she made 32 stops.

StFX advances to the consolation final where they will play Toronto to determine who finished in fifth-place. Nipissing's 2023 National Championship unfortunately ends after this game as they'll head back to North Bay as they look to next season.

Highlights of this game are below!

The first championship semifinal saw the eighth-ranked Mount Royal Cougars encounter the hosts and fifth-ranked Montreal Carabins after the Cougars upset the Varsity Blues while the Carabins upset the Reds. Mount Royal's only wins had come against Toronto, so they wanted to add another name to that list. Montreal, meanwhile, was 7-1 versus Canada West teams, and they were looking to check another Canada West team off their bucket list. Kaitlyn Ross was responsible for defending the Cougars' net while Aube Racine was tasked with stopping the Cougars in the Montreal net.

The first period felt a little each side needed to acquainted with one another as both teams were willing to take chances without giving anything away. The play was quick in a north-south direction, but the Cougars began to get their skating legs as they took more shots as the time counted down in the period. A Mount Royal penalty late in the period saw no damage done, but the Carabins were called for a penalty with 11 seconds left in the period. The time would expire on the period, though, as the teams remain locked at 0-0 with Mount Royal holding an 11-5 edge in shots.

That penalty I mentioned with 11 seconds to go in the first period? It factored into this period as a centering pass to Alex Spence was poked off her stick, but Kiana McNinch followed it up with a quick shot that beat Racine just 1:25 into the period, and the Mount Royal Cougars led 1-0 on the power-play goal! That goal really seemed to fire up the Carabins, however, and they upped their pressure on the Cougars through the period after killing off another penalty. Ross and the Cougars defence were solid through the frame, though, and they'd take that one-goal lead into the second intermission as they saw their shot lead reduced to a 16-15 count.

The third period saw both teams playing cautiously as neither wanted to surrender a goal, but Montreal continued to look for spots to get scoring chances. The teams traded penalties, but neither could convert with the advantage. Montreal would find a break when a bouncing puck was corralled in the slot by Amelie Poiré-Lehoux, and she roofed a backhander past Ross at 10:30 to tie the game at 1-1! That score held for all of 2:13, though, as Emma Bergesen's point shot appeared to be covered by Racine, but Morgan Ramsay spotted it loose behind the netminder and swept it into the net as she falling at 12:43 to put the Cougars back up by a goal!

The Carabins put their heads down and continued to battle hard, trying to find weaknesses in the Cougars' defensive shell. As time ticked down, though, a neutral zone turnover led to Kaia Borbandy scoring an empty-net goal with ten seconds to play as the Mount Royal Cougars claimed the 3-1 victory over the Montreal Carabins! Kaitlyn Ross was fantastic in picking up a second win with a 22-save effort while Aube Racine will play for a bronze medal after a 22-save performance as well.

Mount Royal advances to the gold medal final where they will play the winner of the UBC-Concordia semifinal. Montreal will move to the bronze medal game where they'll face the losing team in that UBC-Concordia semifinal.

Catch the highlights of this game below!

The defending champions were still alive in this National Championship as the third-ranked Concordia Stingers met the second-ranked UBC Thunderbirds. Concordia and UBC met in 2017 in the bronze medal game, and the Thunderbirds defeated the Stingers 2-0 in that game. If Concordia was going to keep the "repeat" option alive, they'd have to beat a very good T-Birds team. For UBC, they were looking to advance to the final for only the second time in their history. Alice Philbert was between the pipes for the Stingers while Elise Hugens got the start for the Thunderbirds.

This game started off at a high tempo as both teams looked for an edge. UBC would go down a player just four minutes into the game, and that was opening that Concordia needed. Emmy Fecteau took a pass at center while flying down the ice, and her long shot beat Elise Hugens on the far side just inside the post at 5:57 to put the Stingers up 1-0! UBC saw that, though, and said "Anything you can do, I can do better" as they went on the power-play a few minutes later and Rylind MacKinnon cleaned up the front of the net in a scramble by putting the puck in the net at 9:52, and we were tied at 1-1! A couple of penalties to Concordia later were killed off, but the teams would hit the break tied at 1-1 and with UBC holding a 10-8 edge in shots.

The middle frame felt like the opening of this game as the pace was quick, but chances were certainly harder to come by as the defences were solid. UBC took back-to-back penalties just past the midway point of the period, and the second one was costly as Rosalie Bégin-Cyr went to the net after Hugens couldn't cover the puck, and Léonie Philbert fed Bégin-Cyr for the easy tap-in from the crease as the Stingers went up 2-1 at 16:06! That would be the only lamp lit until the horn sounded in this period, and we'd go into the second intermission with the Stingers up a goal with the teams tied at 14 shots apiece.

UBC came out to even the score, but it was Concordia who put up a wall at their blue line. Even when UBC got through, Alice Phibert was there to thwart shooters. A UBC penalty at the midpoint of the period would once again cause them problems as Rosalie Bégin-Cyr's long wrist shot avoided the screen, but found the net at 11:46 to put Concordia up 3-1. A penalty to the Stingers minutes later was unsuccessful for UBC, and that might have been the best chance to climb back into this game as Concordia used good defence and puck control to wind this game down. When the final horn sounded, the Concordia Stingers defeated the UBC Thunderbirds by that 3-1 score! Alice Philbert won her fifth-straight game at Nationals with an 18-save effort while Elise Hugens will get another chance in the bronze medal game after she stopped 20 shots.

Concordia advances to the gold medal final where they will defend their championship against the Mount Royal Cougars. UBC heads to the bronze medal game where they'll face the Montreal Carabins in a rematch of the 2016 National Championship gold medal game.

Highlights of this game are below!

The Updated Bracket

With the results above, here's how the brackets look tonight.
The consolation final goes early tomorrow at 11am ET with Toronto and StFX playing their final games of the season. The bronze medal game between UBC and Montreal will be played at 3pm ET followed by the gold medal game between Concordia and Mount Royal at 7pm ET. Of course, you can catch all the games for free on, CBC Gem, and the free CBC Sports app!

Heading Home

UNB and Nipissing will be heading back to Fredericton, New Brunswick and North Bay, Ontario, respectively, after they lost their second games of the tournament today, but neither team has anything about which they should be hanging their heads. Both were exceptional teams within their conferences, and both have bright and exciting futures!

While the tournament didn't go how they wanted, these two teams will be back and will give their fans a lot to cheer about when it comes to long-term success. A number of graduating players will move on, but there will be new stars that emerge as these programs rise back to prominance. I stand and applaud the Reds and the Lakers because they gave everything they had this weekend, and they played like champions.

You can't ask for more than that from these amazing women.

The Last Word

There are three games left in the 2022-23 U SPORTS women's hockey season. It seems like this season has flown by once again, but it's been a great campaign of highlight-reel goals, mind-blowing saves, unbelievable comebacks, and some absolutely dominant performances. We started with 35 teams across four conferences and we're down to just six playing on the final day of the season tomorrow. One will be crowned champion.

Will it be the upstart kids from Mount Royal whose program joined Canada West in 2012-13? Will it be the Concordia Stingers whose program won the first two U SPORTS National Women's Hockey Championships in 1998 and 1999? One game will determine that answer. Tune in tomorrow to find out if the defending champions walk away with their title intact or if the team that wasn't expected to win defies the odds and wins it all!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 17 March 2023

The Rundown - U SPORTS Quarterfinals

The brackets were set, the teams were ready, and the fans were piling into CEPSUM Arena on Thursday and Friday as the U SPORTS National Women's Hockey Championship got underway in Montreal, Quebec. All of the analysis and trends can be discussed, but it was all about winning that first game for all eight teams who were playing at the tournament as only one will go home as the U SPORTS National Champions. Let's find out who is moving on today on The Rundown!

Just as a reminder, here's how the bracket looked on Thursday.
Thursday would see the Mount Royal Cougars and Toronto Varsity Blues tangle in the afternoon game while the UNB Reds would meet up with the host Montreal Carabins in the Thursday evening game. Friday would pit the UBC Thunderbirds and StFX X-Women against one another in the afternoon tilt while the Nipissing Lakers would meet the Concordia Stingers in the Friday night game.

The eighth-seeded Mount Royal Cougars embarked on their second-ever appearance at the U SPORTS National Championship by facing off against the same team they faced in their first appearance in the first-seeded Toronto Varsity Blues. In 2020, the Cougars won in overtime over the Varsity Blues before the tournament was cancelled, so would this year's tournament see a different result? Kaitlyn Ross was the starting netminder for Mount Royal while Toronto leaned on Erica Fryer for her steady goaltending.

Both teams looked sharp as they opened this game with chances at either end of the rink, but the two netminders weren't having any of it as they shut down chance after chance. An early power-play for Toronto didn't result in a goal, and two power-plays midway through the period for Mount Royal were also unsuccessful. It seemed like this evenly-paced match would hit the break with no goals scored, but the Cougars found a break late in the period when Aliya Jomha centered a puck to a wide-open Courtney Kollman who buried it past Fryer with 46 seconds in the period, and the Cougars went into the break up 1-0 despite being outshot 6-5 by Toronto.

The second period saw the Blues pick up the pace as they looked to find an equalizer. That would come at the 6:31 mark when Isabella Greco centered a pass that pinching defender Caroline Eagles picked up, and she went high on the glove-side past Ross to make it a 1-1 game! After a couple of Varsity Blues penalties that they killed off successfully, the Blues continued to apply pressure on the Cougars. That effort would be rewarded with 55 seconds left in the frame when Emma Potter snuck in from the point to receive a pass from Taylor Trussler, and she went high on the pinch to put Toronto up 2-1 as they went into the second intermission with the lead and with a 18-12 edge in shots!

Both had 20 minutes to make their case for the semifinal slot they wanted, and the action went back-and-forth. The Cougars would find an equalizer at 8:40 when Jori Hansen-Young fired a laser from the blue line past the screen in front of Fryer to find the net behind her, and we were tied up at 2-2! A penalty to the Cougars was killed off minutes later, and the two teams played a little more cautiously while looking to jump on opportunities. Mount Royal would find that opportunity late, though, as Athena Hauck led a partial 2-on-1 before dishing to Breanne Trotter who one-timed the puck past Fryer at the with 3:45 to play, and the Cougars led 3-2!

From there, it was defence and goaltending as the Cougars prevented a number of chances from developing. Toronto had a couple of final shots on Ross as they looked to tie the game, but it wasn't to be on this day as the Mount Royal Cougars upset the Toronto Varsity Blues by a 3-2 score! Kaitlyn Ross recorded the win after stopping 20 shots while Erica Fryer dropped this game despite making 16 stops.

With the victory, Mount Royal moves on to one of the semifinal berths and will await the winner of the UNB-Montreal game. Toronto will move to the consolation bracket where they will play the losing team in that UNB-Montreal contest.

Highlights of this game are below!

The Thursday evening game saw the fifth-ranked Montreal Carabins play as the visitors in their home rink against the fourth-ranked UNB Reds. These two teams had never met at a National Championship in their histories, so this was a new chapter of hockey action that was being written in Montreal. Would the home crowd push Montreal past UNB or could the Reds carry their winning ways from the AUS? Aube Racine was between the pipes for Montreal while Kendra Woodland stood in the blue paint for UNB.

Montreal made sure they had the crowd going early as they took the game to UNB by throwing lots of pucks towards the UNB net. That would pay off when Kayleigh Quennec found just enough room past Woodland's glove with traffic in front, and the Swiss-born sniper had the Carabins up 1-0 at 11:36. The goal seemed to energize the Carabins again as they sent wave after wave of pressure at UNB, but the Reds managed it well by clearing rebounds quickly. A late UNB penalty was killed successfully as the teams went into the first intermission with that 1-0 score in favour of Montreal holding while the Carabins posted a 14-2 advantage in shots.

UNB looked to push the pace in the second period, but they ran into some penalty trouble six minutes into the period. Montreal would make them pay at 7:11 when Mylène Lefebrve faked a shot to freeze Woodland before allowing the puck to slide across the top of the crease before tucking it home past the sprawled UNB netminder for the 2-0 lead with the power-play goal. Another penalty to UNB minutes later would lead to a 3-0 lead for Montreal when Amelie Poiré-Lehoux converted a centering feed from Audrey-Anne Veillette as the Carabins put a stranglehold on this game at the 11:21 mark. Montreal would be called for back-to-back penalties later in the frame, but the Reds could not capitalize as we hit the second pause with Montreal up 3-0 in goals and 22-8 in shots.

The third period saw Montreal taking no chances despite pushing for more insurance. They'd pick up a fourth goal when Mylène Lefebrve notched her second goal of the game on a partial 2-on-1 at 10:52, but the Reds weren't going down in this game without a fight. They mounted some late offence before being called for a penalty, but Lillian George continued her incredible play from the AUS postseason as she picked up a loose puck, burst down ice, and found room past Racine with a player draped all over her for the shorthanded goal with 4:21 to play.

That goal, however, may have come a little too late for the comeback to develop as Aube Racine shut the door the rest of the way until the final horn as the Montreal Carabins earned a 4-1 win over the UNB Reds! Aube Racine stopped 13 shots to help her team advance while Kendra Woodland stopped 24 shots in the setback.

Montreal moves on to face the Mount Royal Cougars on Saturday in the first semifinal matchup while the UNB Reds will meet the Toronto Varsity Blues in the consolation bracket semifinal.

Highights of this game are below!

The Friday afternoon quarterfinal game pitted the seventh-ranked StFX X-Women against the second-ranked UBC Thunderbirds. Similar to the previous game, these two teams had never met at a National Championship event, so we'd see some new women's university hockey history written. Jamie Johnson was in the crease for StFX while Elise Hugens stood between the pipes for UBC.

Both teams came out fast as each team was looking to jump ahead in this game, but the goalies were sharp in the early going. Just before the midway point of the period, a parade to the penalty box began as StFX was whistled for three-straight penalties. It would be the third penalty that cost the X-Women as the Thunderbirds solved the penalty-killing strategy when Sophia Gaskell's blast from the point blast was stopped by Johnson, but Rylind MacKinnon jumped on the rebound and put it into the twine at 15:05 to put the T-Birds up 1-0!

UBC would take a penalty shortly after the goal was scored on which StFX couldn't capitalize, but StFX was guilty for three more infractions before getting into the dressing room for the intermission - two of which would carry into the second period - as the UBC Thunderbirds held the 1-0 lead while leading 10-7 in shots.

None of those penalties added to the one-goal deficit facing the X-Women as the second period got underway, and it would be UBC who took back-to-back penalties prior to the midway point of this stanza. StFX couldn't find the back of the net before they were whistled for another infraction, but UBC would be unsuccessful on that advantage. As the horn sounded at the conclusion of this frame, the UBC Thunderbirds still held the 1-0 lead and the 19-12 shot margin.

The third period was all sorts of wacky as a StFX goal was waved off thanks to the net coming off its moorings - more on that below - before the UBC Thunderbirds threw salt into that wound when Sophia Gaskell's shot deflected off the skate of a StFX defender and past Johnson at 7:27 to make it a 2-0 game in favour of the T-Birds. That goal seemed to snap the X-Women awake as Ellie Brown finished off a 2-on-1 feed from Anna MacCara just 1:20 after UBC had scored, and it was a one-goal game again at 8:47. That lead lasted for all of 2:54 as Lauren Dabrowski's point shot deflected off a body in front of Hugens and found twine as the X-Women tied the game at 2-2 at 11:41!

With the score squared up once again, both teams played more cautiously as they aimed to prevent another goal. UBC tempted fate by taking two penalties 16 seconds apart, but they were able to kill off the two-player advantage they surrendered. Despite both sides finding chances through the remaining five minutes, we'd hit zeroes on the clock to send this game to overtime!

Both teams came out looking for the winner early in this extra period of 4-on-4 hockey, and we nearly had goals scored if not for the two netminders. However, we'd see a winner crowned when Sophia Gaskell's point shot eluded the traffic in front of Johnson to dent twine behind the netminder at 5:57 of overtime as the UBC Thunderbirds advance past the StFX X-Women with a 3-2 overtime decision! Elise Hugens made 27 stops in the overtime win while Jamie Johnson stopped 24 shots in the extra-time decision.

The overtime win sends UBC into the semifinal where they'll play one of Concordia or Nipissing based on their results on Friday night. StFX will move to the consolation bracket where they'll play the losing team of that Concordia-Nipissing contest.

Highlights of this game are below!

The Friday night game offered a rematch of last year's U SPORTS National Championship gold medal game as the sixth-ranked Nipissing Lakers met the third-ranked Concordia Lakers. That was the only meeting at a National Championship between these two teams, so this game would either double the number of wins for the Stingers over the Lakers or it would be a little revenge for the Lakers when it came to last year's score. Chantelle Sandquist started in net for Nipissing while Alice Philbert stood in the Concordia crease.

One could be forgiven if one thought this was going to be a high-flying game because the queue to the penalty box had numbers all game long. After Concordia showed some offensive pressure in the early part of this game, Nipissing was whistled for back-to-back infractions. It was the second penalty that would be costly as Sandrine Veillette goes high on the glove-side while on the power-play to put the Stingers up 1-0 at 12:49.

Concordia would be called for a penalty moments later, but that power-play was cut short when Nipissing was penalized again. And that penalty would result in a Chloé Gendreau backdoor goal off a slick cross-crease pass from Megan Bureau-Gagnon standing in front as the Stingers used the power-play to take a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes while holding a 9-5 edge in shots.

The second started with Nipissing having a little jump in their skates as they began to send more pucks to the net. They'd be rewarded for that effort when Madison Desmerais' shot pinballed its way past Philbert and into the net at 5:46 to make it a 2-1 game. However, two-straight Nipissing penalties would lead to a third Concordia tally on the latter infraction when Alexandra-Anne Boyer's backhanded found its way through traffic and Sandquist at 13:51. Nipissing continued to chip away as the period wound down, but the Stingers were keeping them from getting good looks. When the horn sounded on the middle frame, Concordia was up 3-1 in goals and up 24-11 in shots.

An early Concordia penalty in the third period was nullified by a Nipissing penalty, and there would be four more penalties called on the Lakers in the final frame as they simply couldn't maintain any momentum with all the infractions. Emmy Fecteau would wire home a wrist shot on a power-play at 4:51 to make it a 4-1 game, and Rachel McIntyre would hit the empty net with 1:45 to play in the game as the Concordia Stingers took advantage of special teams in defeating the Nipissing Lakers by a 5-1 score. Alice Philbert stopped 11 shots in backstopping the Stingers while Chantelle Sandquist made 29 stops for the Lakers in this game.

Concordia will advance to UBC in the other championship semifinal while Nipissing will meet StFX in the consolation bracket. The semifinal matchups are officially set for Saturday!

Highlights of this game are below!

The Updated Bracket

With the results above, here's how the brackets look tonight.
The consolation bracket starts early tomorrow at 10am ET with Toronto and UNB playing the morning game followed by Nipissing and StFX at 1pm ET. The championship semifinal between Mount Royal and Montreal will be played at 4:30pm ET followed by the championship semifinal between UBC and Concordia at 7:30pm ET. Of course, you can catch all the games for free on, CBC Gem, and the free CBC Sports app!

The Pegs

We saw both Chantelle Sandquist and Elise Hugens really struggling with the moorings used in Montreal when they tried to push off the post to move laterally. Montreal was using the example on the right as shown in the image, and we know those barely hold a net in place when players as strong as university athletes are pushing on them. It affected the game between StFX anfd UBC in that StFX had a goal waved off, and we saw Nipissing and Concordia battling the posts all game when it came keep the posts on the goal line.

It's hard to imagine that a university program isn't using the flexpegs shown above on the left as they generally provide more resistance than the spike pegs. I don't know how often the Carabins had nets come off the pegs during their RSEQ season, but the frequency it was happening over the last two days might force Montreal to make a change. We'll see what comes of the issues today, but I'm sure that U SPORTS officials will be discussing it.

The Last Word

The Golden Path Trophy will see its home for the next year either be at a Canada West school or an RSEQ school as those conferences are still alive on the championship side. The defending champions are still alive as well, so we could see a repeat champion for the first time since 2009 after McGill won in both 2008 and 2009.

Having been at a National Championship with a team on the consolation side of the bracket, I know it sucks for players to play for nothing more than pride, but there's still a chance to be one of the top-five teams in Canada this season. Yes, there's no hardware to take home, but players are proud and the team that wins the fifth-place placement is only one of two teams in Canadian university hockey who can claim they finished their season with a win.

For Toronto, UNB, StFX, and Nipissing, there's a chance to end the season on a winning note. Make that your trophy for this weekend. Again, no one is going to deny that it sucks to lose in the quarterfinals, but two wins to end the season over two very good teams is a nice jumping-off point for next season. Make it happen!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 16 March 2023

The Hockey Show - Episode 547

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns tonight as both the U SPORTS Men's and Women's Hockey Championships get underway today! Our hosts are psyched for the tournaments happening in Charlottetown, PEI and Montreal, Quebec, respectively, as these two events will have a ton of great hockey played at them over the next four days. There's also a pile of other news from the hockey world they need to go over, so be prepared for a show filled with hockey goodness at 530pm CT!

These two trophies - the David Johnston Trophy and the Golden Path Trophy - will be awarded to one men's team and one women's team, respectively, on Sunday, and we'll look at who took steps to get there today. Teebz and Jason will chat about the early games played at both U SPORTS National Championships before getting into a couple a players who took steps to finding better mental health, a completely idiotic act by a player who's already on a second chance, the NHL sticking with the statis quo, a league banning fighting, and a shoutout to a local team looking to three-peat down south! We may even get to chat to a few players who are skating at the U SPORTS National Championship in Montreal! It should be another fun and crazy show tonight, so tune 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 chat good mental health, bad acts by players, no changes from the NHL, teams looking to bring home some hardware and, potentially, with some of the players attempting to do so, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the web stream!

PODCAST: March 16, 2023: Episode 547

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!