Tuesday 28 February 2023

Wear It Again

The Vancouver Canucks announced last week that they'll wear the logo to the left on March 2 at home against the Minnesota Wild on a night where it has been designated as First Nations Celebration. With the rich history on the west coast of Indigenous Peoples, this celebration makes complete sense. Jay Odjick, the cousin of the late Gino Odjick, designed the logo for the night, and I have to say that it's far better than anything the Canucks have worn in recent memory. Whether it's the orca logo or the stick-in-rink logo, this Indigenous logo is infinitely better. What would it take to have the Canucks wear this logo as an alternate logo at the very least?

From the Canucks' website,
"The jersey will feature a Thunderbird crest in Algonquin design, representing the strong and powerful protector that Gino was, with a lightning bolt at its heart to symbolize Gino’s passion. The wings of the Thunderbird will include Coastal Salish design inspiration to honour the First Nations communities of Vancouver and the surrounding areas.

"The jersey will also feature Medicine Wheel shoulder patches, which represent the interconnectedness and balance of all elements of life, with eight feathers to represent the eight seasons Gino played as a Canuck."
It should be noted that there are at least 18 different distinct cultures of the Indigenous Peoples who live on the west coast. Those Peoples include the Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Gitxsan, Haisla, Heiltsuk, Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka), Nuxalk (Bella Coola), Wuikinuxv (Owekeeno), Kwakwaka'wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka), Makah, Coast Salish, Quileute-Chimakum, Willapa, Kwalhioqua, Tillamook, Chinook, and the Da'naxda'xw Nation. There are distinct cultural differences between these Peoples, and having the Canucks draw upon the Coastal Salish design for the logo is a great reflection of that community's culture.

While Vancouver falls into the Coast Salish territory, I feel like the Canucks could be wearing this logo and jersey more often than one night per year. Perhaps they can alter their current logos annually to reflect these cultures and Peoples as some, such as the Makah and the Tsimshian, have distinct ties to whale imagery in their histories. If the Canucks were looking to push merchandise, having Indigenous deisgners such as Jay Odjick alter their logos to reflect the various Indigenous Peoples in the province would certainly add to the bottom line when they look this good.

On top of that, the proceeds from this year's sales of the First Nations Collection "will go to Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations youth programs", and that's a fantastic way to get Indigenous youth involved in a number of causes. If hockey is one of those things, the Canucks should be proud to partner with programs in those First Nations communities, and it may lead to more amazing British Columbia-born, Indigenous players like Carey Price finding their way to the bright lights of the NHL!

I never understood why the NHL talks about inclusiveness, but only dedicates one night of inclusiveness to the very groups they want to attract to the game. Whether it be their Pride jerseys or their Black History jerseys or the various jerseys made by teams like the South Asian jerseys worn by the Jets or the Indigenous jerseys worn by the Canucks, wearing these jerseys at least once per month would go a great deal further in showing that the NHL is willing to be an ally of all marginalized cultures in the sport of hockey.

Honestly, seeing the Canucks wearing the logo at the top of this article might prompt me to wear Canucks merchandise as opposed to just passing by their rather bland logos. The Odjick-designed logo has great local Indigenous images, it has "Canucks" in it, and it looks more intimidating than the lame orca. I'm normally not one to celebrate the intimidation factor, but this logo looks like it's there to win.

What I want to see in the NHL is never likely to happen, but a great logo shouldn't be used once and retired forever. Jay Odjick brought the intensity in his Indigenous design, and I have a feeling his late cousin would be very proud that the team he once skated for will wear it on their chests. The least the Canucks could do it wear it a little more often than once to show the Indigenous communities in British Columbia that they're a part of the team.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 27 February 2023

More U SPORTS News

I was always curious where the phrase "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!" came from because the origins seem very foreign to me. Why "Extra"? Well, it turns out that the "Extra" was short for "Newspaper Extra" which was a special printing of a newspaper when there was a big story that needed coverage. With the introduction of radio in the 1930s and 1940s to most metropolitan areas, the idea of a special edition of the newspaper fell off since most breaking news could be relayed over the radio medium. But you now know why newspaper street vendors would holler, "Extra! Extra!" when selling newspapers - if you wanted the most recent news, you bought the newspaper extra.

That fact aside, today's entry is a little like that idea in that there are some stories that didn't make The Rundown yesterday that still should be told because of the importance they carry. One is about a former player that's excelling elsewhere while the other is about a game that was played tonight that will see one more team heading to Montreal. Without further adieu, let's get to the stories!

She's Still Got It

Back in July 2022, I wrote an article about Jordan Kulbida making the decision to transfer from the University of Regina to Minot State University in North Dakota where she would play her final year of university eligibility with the Beavers. Jordan was a heckuva player with Regina and, while I couldn't write that at the time, I felt like there would be a massive hole in Regina's lineup without her skills. She was always a threat in the offensive zone whether she had the puck or not, and her defensive game had grown quite nicely to the point where she was one of the better two-way players in Canada West. In short, she had all the talent needed to be successful no matter where she played.

Well, that assessment seems to have held true south of the border as Jordan was named as a Women's Midwest Collegiate Hockey First Team All-Star after leading the Beavers in scoring this season with 18 goals and 13 assists. Beyond that, she played all over the Beavers' lineup - including suiting up for a game as a defender in exhibition play! - as she helped the Beavers to the third seed in the upcoming ACHA National Championship!

Kulbida and the Beavers will face the tenth-seeded Miami (Ohio) Bobcats in their opening game of the tournament that runs from March 16-20 in Boston, Massachusetts. The 21-10-2-0 Beavers and the 16-7-0-1 Bobcats meet at 6pm on March 16 with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals on March 18. As it stands, the Beavers never played the Bobcats this season, and the last time they squared off was January 2020 when the Beavers swept the Bobcats in the two-game weekend series.

It wasn't hard to see that Kulbida was going to be an impact player throughout her career in Canada West, and it's awesome to see her doing so well in the ACHA. I'll be cheering for Minot State in the ACHA National Championship as I want to see Jordan finish her university hockey career with a championship. I'll also be cheering for them because we featured head coach Ryan Miner on The Hockey Show and had a great chat with him about the Beavers program! Knowing that these two people are leading the Beavers into the national championship makes me believe that the Beavers should be one of the favourites to come home with some hardware!

Best of luck to both Jordan Kulbida and Ryan Miner as they look to capture the ACHA National Championship in Boston. I know it's a long way from the prairies, but there will be one guy cheering for the Beavers in Winnipeg as they make a push for the championship! And congratulations on the accolades earned this season, Jordan!

One More Into The Field

Game Four of the AUS semifinal series between the St. Francis Xavier X-Women and the Saint Mary's Huskies was played tonight, and the Huskies needed to win at home to keep their season going. Jamie Johnson was the netminder for the X-Women while Sophie Scully started for the Huskies.

I say "started" in the previous sentence because Scully's night was over after 7:31 of action. Chloe Vukosa at 38 seconds, Abby Lewis at 3:12, and Lauren Dabrowski on the power-play at 7:31 was the damage done before Scully was replaced by Ridleigh Hansen in the Saint Mary's net, and that StFX lead loomed large throughout the game as the Huskies never really got their game going.

Lea Macleod would add a fourth goal at 8:41 of the third period for the Huskies, but the three quick strikes in the first period was more than enough for Johnson as she pitched the 31-save shutout in helping StFX to the 4-0 win. That victory also was the third of the series for the X-Women as they eliminated the Huskies 3-1 in their best-of-five semifinal to qualify for both the AUS Final against the UNB Reds and the U SPORTS National Championship in Montreal.

Officially, we await the OUA for their representatives at the U SPORTS National Championship. The Canada West Final, as we know, will happen this weekend with the UBC Thunderbirds hosting the Mount Royal Cougars. The RSEQ Final will take place in Montreal with the Concordia Stingers hosting the Montreal Carabins. The AUS Championship will have their championship schedule posted on Wednesday, and the series will start in Fredericton as the Reds finished ahead of the X-Women in the standings. This final AUS series can be watched for free by signing up for a free AUS TV account! There's nothing better than watching for free, right?

The OUA semifinals start on Wednesday with the Toronto Varsity Blues hosting the Guelph Gryphons at 7pm ET in Toronto while the Nipissing Lakers will host the Waterloo Warriors at 7pm ET in North Bay. The best-of-three series will see Nipissing head to Waterloo for Game Two on Friday at 7pm ET while Toronto plays in Guelph on Saturday at 2:30pm ET. Game Three for the Nipissing-Waterloo series, if necessary, will be played in North Bay on Saturday at 7pm ET while Game Three between Toronto and Guelph will be played on Sunday at 4pm ET if necessary. These games can be seen for free by signing up for a free OUA TV account! Free is good!

We'll know which two OUA teams will be joining UBC, Mount Royal, Concordia, Montreal, UNB, and StFX as early as Saturday, but by Sunday at the very latest. The National Championship will be played from March 16-19, 2023 at CEPSUM Arena at the University of Montreal, and CBC will have all the games broadcast on their online streams from the tournament in Montreal. It's time to get fired up for championship hockey!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 26 February 2023

The Rundown - Semifinals

We were down to four teams in the Canada West playoffs this week, and that number would be cut in half by the time Sunday evening was in place. The winners this week get an extra bonus as those two teams will head to the University of Montreal in a few weeks to represent Canada West at the U SPORTS National Championship, but the quest for a Canada West banner was still the goal for all four teams. There was a rematch from last year's Canada West Final in one semifinal while the other was the new-age Battle of Alberta, so let's find out who will be booking flights to and hotels rooms in Montreal in this week's edition of The Rundown!

Just to remind everyone, here's the current bracket.
Saskatchewan was in Vancouver to battle UBC while Mount Royal went to Edmonton to tangle with Alberta. Let's go!

We'll start in Vancouver on Friday night where the fifth-seeded Huskies met the top-seeded UBC Thunderbirds. Saskatchewan is one of the teams who defeated the Thunderbirds in regulation this season, so there was no reason to believe they couldn't do it again despite that victory coming way back on October 14, 2022. UBC, meanwhile, had only put together a perfect home record this season, going 14-0-0 at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Arena while posting a 19-0 record if one includes the 2022 playoffs where the Thunderbirds won the Canada West banner. Streaks were on the line, a berth to Nationals was up for grabs, and these two teams came in hungry on Friday night as Camryn Drever took her spot in the Saskatchewan net while Elise Hugens was in between the pipes for UBC!

When one looks at the final stats in this game, it's hard not to think that one team completely dominated the other. In reality, the game seemed much closer in how it was played despite the statistical finish, but the numbers are what they are. In saying that, the Thunderbirds missed out on taking a lead when they were awarded two power-play opportunities in the opening frame while the goalies were perfect in their jobs, and we'd go to the second period still tied 0-0 despite UBC jumping out to a 15-3 advantage in shots.

The second period featured a quick pace as both teams looked for the opening goal, but the goaltenders weren't having any of it. A late power-play in the period for the Huskies wouldn't help in the goal-scoring department, so we'd head to the third period with the score still locked at 0-0 and with UBC leading 31-8 in shots. Not a typo.

As hard as it may be to believe, UBC upped their pressure in the third period as every puck they had in the offensive zone seemed to end up directed at the Saskatchewan net. It didn't help that Saskatchewan took two penalties, but the Huskies weathered those storms. The problem, though, was that Sophia Gaskell's shot at 9:13 eluded the bodies in front and ended up under the bar on Drever's glove side, and UBC broke the goalless tie to go up 1-0!

UBC continued to press for an insurance marker, limiting Saskatchewan's chances. Time would run out on the Huskies, though, as the UBC Thunderbirds claimed the 1-0 victory! Elise Hugens earned her first win and the shutout thanks to her nine-save clean sheet while Camryn Drever deserved a batter fate after stopping 49 shots in this game.

With the victory, UBC holds a 1-0 lead over Saskatchewan in this best-of-three semifinal series.

UBC has a highlight package for Game One!

The Thunderbirds took a step forward in defending their Canada West title, and they were looking to close out the series on Saturday. The Huskies, meanwhile, had their collective backs against the wall as they looked to keep their season alive with a win. They'd likely need more than nine shots to do it, so I expected some adjustments to be made by the Huskies as they came into Saturday's game. Game Two saw Camryn Drever back in the Saskatchewan net while UBC went back to Elise Hugens.

It was clear that the Huskies came to play with a little desperation in their game as this game looked much different than the night before. UBC was whistled for an early power-play that Saskatchewan couldn't capitalize on, but they also were quick to cut off the T-Birds when they counter-attacked. The teams traded penalties midway through the period while the Huskies were called for an infraction late, but the goalies were on their game as this game hit the break still tied at 0-0 and the teams tied at four shots apiece.

The second period saw UBC get their legs under them as they got a few more shots on Drever, but the Saskatchewan goalie stood tall. There was one penalty called in the period, and it led to the game's opening tally. The Huskies moved the puck around the top of the zone before Sophie Lalor loaded up a wrist shot that found room past a screened Hugens on the glove side at 15:55, and the Huskies had their first lead of the series at 1-0! That score would hold until the horn as the second intermission saw the Huskies leading 1-0 while UBC held a 17-12 edge in shots.

As they did one night earlier, UBC came out with fire under their skates for the third period. They had a number of chances, but Drever and the Huskies' defence were quick to reduce chances and clear rebounds before anything could come of them. UBC was called for a penalty midway through the frame, and that led to a nearly-identical power-play goal from Sophie Lalor as she zipped a shot through the high screen as Elise Hugens tried to peek around the bodies standing in front of her, and the puck dented twine on the glove side to put the Huskies up 2-0!

That goal seemed to fire up the T-Birds once again, but the Huskies were all-in on defending the lead. They killed off a late penalty and prevented the Thunderbirds from getting good looks as time ticked down. When the horn finally sounded, the Huskies had snapped the home winning streak for the Thunderbirds with a 2-0 win! Camryn Drever was outstanding in denying all 34 shots for her third playoff win and first shutout whuile Elise Hugens made 15 saves.

With the victory, the Huskies and Thunderbirds are tied at 1-1 and will require a Game Three in this best-of-three semifinal series.

Highlights of Game Two are below!

It came down to Sunday where one game would determine who would move on to Montreal and a chance at winning the Canada West Final and who would go home and begin planning for next season. Statistics go out the window in a winner-takes-all game as every shot could be the difference between winning and losing. Our starters were back where they belong as Camryn Drever was in the net for the Huskies while Elise Hugens was in the UBC blue paint.

An early penalty against the Huskies didn't do them any favours as UBC got the power-play rolling. Cassidy Rhodes wired a wrister from the high slot with bodies in front of Drever, and the puck found twine at 3:12 to put the T-Birds up 1-0. Saskatchewan applied some solid pressure on the Thunderbirds, forcing them into a penalty minutes later, but they couldn't get one by Hugens. UBC couldn't capitalize on a power-play later in the period, and they'd end the period by having a penalty carry-over into the second frame. The lone power-play goal for UBC held as the only marker, though, as the Huskies held a 13-8 advantage in shots through 20 minutes.

The second period opened with a flurry of activity at both ends before Jacquelyn Fleming fed a pinching Sophia Gaskell out front, and the UBC defender chipped it by Drever at 3:11 to put UBC up 2-0. A pair of UBC penalties before and after the midway point of the period didn't slow the Thunderbirds down as they appeared to be engaging in the idea of "the best defence is a good offence". Regardless, the Huskies couldn't score on those power-plays, and the horn would sound on the end of two period with UBC leading 2-0 while Saskatchewan was holding a 19-17 margin in shots.

An early third period penalty to the Thunderbirds was killed off as Saskatchewan may regret those opportunties missed, but the Thunderbirds didn't sit back and let the Huskies attack. While both sides had chances as time ticked down, a Chanreet Bassi shot that Drever appeared to cover only to have Grace Elliott poke from under glove into the net with 1:58 to play would ice this game and series as the UBC Thunderbirds skated to the Game Three 3-0 win! Elise Hugens stopped 26 shots for her second win and second shutout of these playoffs while Camryn Drever made 24 stops in her final game of the season.

With the victory, UBC eliminates Saskatchewan to advance to the Canada West Final and qualify for the 2023 U SPORTS National Championship in Montreal. They'll host the winner of the Mount Royal-Alberta series as they look to defend their Canada West championship.

Highlights of Game Three from Vancouver are below!

While the battle of Alberta normally involves the Flames and Oilers, there has been no love lost between the Mount Royal Cougars and the Alberta Pandas in the last few years. These teams met in 2020 Canada West Final where the Pandas downed the Cougars in two-straight games, and the Pandas hold a 2-0 edge at home over the Cougars again this season. After both teams were eliminated in the semifinals last season, one of them would be competing for the Canada West banner this year. Kaitlyn Ross was in the Mount Royal net to begin this series while Halle Oswald stood in front of the Alberta net in the Pandas' zone.

This game started well with both sides looking to get on the board early, but it would be the Cougars who struck first as Canada West Player of the Year Tatum Amy somehow found room past Oswald on the glove-side when it seemed there was none, and Mount Royal had the 1-0 lead just 5:24 into this game! After that goal, the parade to the penalty boxes began as Alberta was whistled for back-to-back penalties before the teams alternated penalty calls with three whistled inside of 55 seconds. The end result was no goals were scored on the power-plays, and the 1-0 score for Mount Royal would hold into the break with Alberta up 11-6 in shots.

The second period looked more like a Mount Royal-Alberta battle as shots were seen, but second chances were few and far between. A power-play awarded to each team both went unsuccessful, and the defensive efforts were much better from both sides. Neither team would find twine as 40 minutes expired with the Cougars still leading 1-0 and Alberta up 17-12 in shots.

The third period brought a more aggressive Alberta attack as they looked for an equalizer while Mount Royal continued to try and limit chances for their opponents. Despite the Pandas pressing, they simply couldn't find room past Ross, and the Cougars would ice this game late when Athena Hauck continued her solid play in the playoffs by burying the empty-netter at 18:23 as the Mount Royal Cougars took Game One by a 2-0 score over the Alberta Pandas! Kaitlyn Ross picked up her third playoff win and second playoff shutout after her 26-save effort while Halle Oswald suffered the loss on a 13-save night.

With the victory, Mount Royal holds a 1-0 lead over Alberta in this best-of-three semifinal series.

Alberta's got a hightlight package ready for Game One!

For the first time all season, the Alberta Pandas were feeling the pressure as they needed to win to keep their season going. Mount Royal had a chance to exorcise a number of demons when it came to playing at Clare Drake Arena, but they still had to defeat the always-tough Pandas on their ice to do so. One of the keys to Mount Royal's success had been scoring first in every playoff game thus far, so could they do it again? Kaitlyn Ross was back in her normal place for this one while Halle Oswald was looking for a bounce-back in the Alberta net.

Alberta was considerably more focused, it seemed, as they pressured Mount Royal right from puck-drop. Mount Royal was called for a penalty just before the midway point of the period, and that would be the opportunity Alberta sought. Abby Soyko got the puck at the top of the zone, skated to the top of the circles, and unleashed a shot that got through the traffic and past the screen that impaired Ross's vision to dent twine at 10:44, giving Alberta their first lead of the series at 1-0! The penalty calls continued throughout the remainder of the period as Mount Royal killed off two to Alberta's one infraction, but the period would end with a Cougar in the box, Alberta up a goal, and the Pandas leading 6-2 in shots.

The battle continued in the second period, and it seemed Alberta took a 2-0 lead off a great deflection in front. However, the officials ruled that the puck had been played with a high sitck, so the goal was wiped out and we were back to a 1-0 lead for the Pandas. That waved-off goal seemed to energize the Cougars as they got back into the game quickly with some rushes into the Alberta end, but Halle Oswald was having none of it. The teams traded unsuccessful power-plays in the frame, but the horn sounded on the period with Alberta still leading 1-0 and still leading 12-9 in shots.

Mount Royal didn't do themselves any favours in the opening ten minutes of the third period by taking three-straight penalties, but they turned up the heat a notch or two in the final half of the period. Some late chances, though, were thwarted by Oswald and the Pandas' defence as Alberta withstood the late barrage to hold on for the 1-0 victory over the Cougars! Halle Oswald picked up her first playoff win and first shutout this postseason as she stopped 16 shots while Kaitlyn Ross stopped 17 shots in the setback.

With the victory, the Cougars and Pandas are tied at 1-1 and will require a Game Three in this best-of-three semifinal series.

Highlights of Game Two are below!

We were down to one game to determine who would play in the Canada West Final with the winner heading to Montreal while the losing squad heading home. Just as I stated for the other series, most statistics matter not when it comes to a one-game situation. The only statistic that matters at the end of the day is the final score. Kaitlyn Ross was in the blue paint for the Cougars for her second-straight Game Three Sunday while Halle Oswald occupied the Pandas' net.

Alberta scored first one night earlier and that resulted in a win, so they figured they'd do it again. Cassidy Maplethorpe notched her first Canada West playoff goal at 3:17 to get the Pandas out front, and that was followed by a parade to the penalty box. Mount Royal took a penalty only to have the Alberta power-play nullified 27 seconds into the advantage, and Alberta took two more penalties in the period including one that carried over into the second period. No goals were scored on the power-plays, so we'd hit the break with Alberta up 1-0, but Mount Royal holding a 7-5 edge in shots.

The second period saw Mount Royal drop in front of any shot they could while applying crazy pressure on the Pandas. That carried-over penalty led to another Alberta penalty, but the Cougars were unable to capitalize. Mount Royal played 5-on-3 for a minute in the middle of the period, but they'd kill off those penalties as well. It wouldn't be until late in the period we'd see a tally as Mackenzie Butz dropped a pass to Laura Cook who sent a long wrister through a crowd of humanity in front of Oswald. She got a pad on it, but the puck ricocheted off her pad and slid into the net behind her at 18:17, and the Cougars had tied the game at 1-1! We'd enter the intermission at that score as Mount Royal jumped out to an 18-7 advantage in shots in the middle frame.

The third period was played like a playoff game as both teams seemingly focused on being safe in their own zones before looking for offence. A mid-period penalty to the Cougars went by with no Alberta goals, but an Alberta penalty minutes later saw the Cougars capitalize. Mackenzie Butz threw a low shot towards the Alberta net from the right face-off circle, and Ava Metzger got her stick on it to deflect it under Oswald. Oswald, though, didn't have it covered, and Sydney Benko from the left post poked it across the goal line to put the Cougars up 2-1 with 5:10 to play!

On the reset, the Pandas knew the clock was their biggest enemy in keeping their season alive. They looked to set up in the Cougars' zone, but Mount Royal was quick to pucks and checks. With 1:37 to go, Alberta went with the extra attacker, but it didn't matter on this day as the Mount Royal Cougars claimed a 2-1 victory over the Alberta Pandas! Kaitlyn Ross stopped ten shots for her fourth win in the playoffs while Halle Oswald saw her season end after 22 saves.

With the victory, Mount Royal eliminates Alberta to advance to the Canada West Final and qualify for the 2023 U SPORTS National Championship in Montreal. They'll head to Vancouver with their sights set on upsetting the defending Canada West champions in the UBC Thunderbirds.

Here are the Game Three highlights from Edmonton.

The Bracket

Those times shown on the image above are the times shown on the Thunderbirds' schedule, so I'd take them as gospel. All of those times are, of course, in Pacific Time, so do the math to figure out when to tune in. Mount Royal will head to Vancouver for the first time this season as these two teams only met in Calgary for a weekend set this year, so it gives us very few statistics to analyze when it comes to advantages this season.

The Numbers

During UBC's visit to Calgary back on November 25 and 26, they split with the Cougars as UBC won Friday's game by a 2-0 score before Mount Royal responded with a 1-0 win on Saturday. The historical numbers say that UBC is 13-5 at home all-time against Mount Royal, but Mount Royal holds a 4-2-0 record in Vancouver since 2019. In all of those games, the winning team scored two goals or less, so I expect the defensive game that Mount Royal has been playing to continue against UBC. The last time the Cougars swept the Thunderbirds in Vancouver was November 22 and 23, 2019, so this series may favour the visitors based on historical trends.

Of course, they play the games for a reason, so I'll be watching to see if UBC can defend their Canada West title or if Mount Royal can capture their first Canada West banner in school history!

Out In The Maritimes

One series is already decided in the AUS as the UNB Reds defeated the UPEI Panthers by a 3-1 count in their best-of-five semifinal. That win qualifies UNB for the U SPORTS National Championship in Montreal, and they await their opponents competing in the other semifinal before kicking things off at home in the AUS Final.

The other semifinal has St. Francis-Xavier leading 2-1 over Saint Mary's in their best-of-five series with Game Four scheduled for Monday night at the Dauphinee Centre on the Saint Mary's University campus. The StFX X-Women fell 6-3 earlier today to the Huskies, but they'll have two more opportunities to close out the series. Saint Mary's, as it stands, has to win to keep their season alive.

Au Québec

The RSEQ saw the Concordia Stingers take out the Bishop's Gaiters in their semifinal by a 2-0 count in their best-of-three semifinal series. I don't think anyone would be surprised that the Stingers won both games by 5-1 scores, but the growth of the hockey program is encouraging to see at Bishop's. I'll speak more about this below, the the RSEQ needs Bishop's to really grow quickly.

We already know that the Montreal Carabins are hosting the U SPORTS National Championship, so their series with the Ottawa Gee-Gees was important to all three of Montreal, Ottawa, and Concordia. If Montreal defeated Ottawa, Concordia qualifies for Nationals just by being in the RSEQ Final. If Ottawa defeated Montreal, Concordia and Ottawa would meet in the RSEQ Final with the winner advancing to Nationals. So what happened?

Montreal defeated the Ottawa Gee-Gees 3-2 in overtime in today's Game Three of their best-of-three series. Montreal advances to the RSEQ Final to face Concordia, and Concordia automatically qualifies for Nationals. Concordia will look to defend their RSEQ title next week, but both Montreal and Concordia will play for the U SPORTS National Championship.

Ontario's Still Going

After an epic four-overtime, seven-period game today between the Windsor Lancers and the Guelph Gryphons that was won 3-2 by the Gryphons, the OUA will begin their semifinals this week. The Gryphons will meet the Toronto Varsity Blues in one of the semifinal series while the Waterloo Warriors will meet the Nipissing Lakers in the other series. The winners of those series will advance to the McCaw Cup Final where they'll battle for the highest honour in OUA hockey, but both teams will qualify for the National Championship.

Keep your eyes on the OUA because three of those four teams were ranked in the Top Ten this season, and at least one of them won't be going to Montreal this year.

OUA And RSEQ Changes

There will need to be some major decisions made in the next few months about what to do regarding the OUA and the RSEQ as both the Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Carleton Ravens have announced their intentions to move out of the RSEQ into the OUA by 2024-25. When that happens, the OUA will grow to 14 teams while the RSEQ will fall to four teams in total.

It seems pretty clear to me that these moves will ultimately mean that the RSEQ would be absorbed into the OUA much like the OUA Men's Conference has done. The three Quebec-based men's teams play in the East Division of the OUA alongside Ontario-based teams in Carleton, Ontario Tech, Ottawa, Queen's, RMC, and Nipissing while the OUA West Division is made up of ten Ontario-based men's teams. It's far from perfect, but it somehow works for the OUA.

Shifting Toronto, TMU, and York to the Women's West Division while absorbing Concordia, Montreal, McGill, and Bishop's would create a nine-team OUA West Division and a seven-team East Division at first glance. It would open the door to further expansion in Quebec - Laval and Trois-Rivieres, perhaps? - but the playoff format could be similar to Canada West until things were evened out.

In any case, having Ottawa and Carleton move to the OUA means the the RSEQ becomes nearly irrelevant if all teams make the playoffs and a team needs to win one playoff round to qualify for Nationals. Someone who has their name on a door at the U SPORTS offices better come up with a solution in the next few months.

The Last Word

The Canada West championship series will feature the two most successful teams over the last two season as the Thunderbirds enter the championship with a 38-8-2 record over those two campaigns while the Cougars come into the final with a 35-8-5 record. The teams feature the top two goalies statistically in the playoffs, and both teams have played some incredible defensive hockey to get where they are.

Five teams have qualified for Nationals. One team is a win away from joining them while two more are series wins from rounding out the field. If you're not pumped for next weekend's schedule of championships and playoff series, you may want to check to see if you still have a pulse!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 25 February 2023

A Second Swedish Goalie Goal!

It's hard to imagine Linus Ullmark not winning the Vezina Trophy this season after the incredible campaign he has. Take away the fact that the Bruins are far-and-away the best team in the NHL right now and have been all season, but Ullmark's numbers are quite jaw-dropping when you see how goods he's been. Currently sporting a 30-4-1 record after tonight's game against the Vancouver Canucks, Ullmark ranks first in save percentage at .937, first in goals-against average at 1.88, first in wins, and has only surrendered 67 goals in 37 appearances this season. With numbers like those, it's virtually his award to lose at this point, but Ullmark went ahead and added another statistical number to his season tonight that not many netminders can boast!

We head to the final minute of play in Vancouver between the Bruins and Canucks where Linus Ullmark makes his mark on this game!
Ullmark's goal with 48 seconds left is the first Boston Bruins' goalie goal in team history, and he becomes the 13th netminder to score in an NHL game. In total 16 NHL goals have been awarded to goaltenders with nine of those goals being shot into the vacant cage by the goaltender. Ullmark's goal is the second time that the Vancouver Canucks have been on the wrong side of a goalie goal - San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov scored on the Canucks on March 10, 2002!

More importantly for the Bruins, they won another game as they appear to on track to break all sorts of records this season. Ullmark recorded his 30th win of the season for the first time in his career, and, as shown above, his first professional hockey goal. With the 3-1 victory, Boston moves to 45-8-5 this season, 15 points clear of second-place Toronto in the Atlantic Division!

The list of NHL goalies who scored grows by one as shown below!
  • Billy Smith (NYI) at Colorado Rockies - Nov 28, 1979
  • Ron Hextall (PHI) vs Boston Bruins - Dec 8, 1987
  • Ron Hextall (PHI) at Washington Capitals - Apr 11, 1989*¹
  • Chris Osgood (DET) at Hartford Whalers - Mar 6, 1996
  • Martin Brodeur (NJD) vs Montreal Canadiens - Apr 17, 1997*
  • Damian Rhodes (OTT) vs New Jersey Devils - Jan 2, 1999
  • Martin Brodeur (NJD) vs Philadelphia Flyers - Feb 15, 2000²
  • Jose Theodore (MTL) at New York Islanders - Jan 2, 2001
  • Evgeni Nabokov (SJS) at Vancouver Canucks - Mar 10, 2002³
  • Mika Noronen (BUF) at Toronto Maple Leafs - Feb 14, 2004
  • Chris Mason (NAS) vs Phoenix Coyotes - Apr 15, 2006
  • Cam Ward (CAR) vs New Jersey Devils - Dec 26, 2011
  • Martin Brodeur (NJD) at Carolina Hurricanes - Mar 21, 2013³
  • Mike Smith (PHX) vs Detroit Red Wings - Oct 19, 2013
  • Pekka Rinne (NAS) at Chicago Blackhawks - Jan 9, 2020
  • Linus Ullmark (BOS) at Vancouver Canucks - Feb 25, 2023
    NOTES: * denotes a playoff goal, ¹ denotes a shorthanded goal, ² denotes a game-winning goal, and ³ denotes a power-play goal. Italicized names denote goalies who shot the puck into the empty net.
With Carl Lindbom scoring on Wednesday and Linus Ullmark tonight, the Swedes seem to be generating a lot of goals from the blue paint. Usually, we'd be talking about guys crashing the net in these cases, but it seems that the Swedes are giving their goaltenders the green light to fire at an open net if they have the chance. They're two-for-two this week, so maybe this is a trend we want to encourage!

One goalie goal won't win Ullmark any postseason awards, and there really is only one trophy he and his teammates want. If he ends up winning that one, the Vezina would be a nice addition to an already-incredible season for Ullmark. As it stands right now, Ullmark will have his name in the record books for hitting the empty net, but it's merely a footnote on this dominant chapter of his career.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 24 February 2023


There are more than enough clichés in the sports world and the literary world when it comes to things ending. You probably know some of them: "all good things come to an end", "nothing lasts forever", and "every ending is a new beginning". As pleasant as those sound, there was a major streak that came to an end tonight in Canada West hockey, and it puts the top-ranked team in the nation in serious jeopardy of missing out on the national championship. As Shel Silverstein once said, there are no happy endings. That holds true in Canada West.

The fifth-seeded Saskatchewan Huskies men's hockey team packed their bags and headed back to Calgary for a date with the top-seeded Calgary Dinos. Saskatchewan was fresh off a slight upset of the Mount Royal Cougars in their quarterfinal series while the Dinos had earned the bye through the quarterfinal round, but the semifinals were going to be a whole new ball of wax as the Huskies met the Calgary Dinos on Thursday night knowing the Dinos had finished their season by winning their previous 23 games.

To say the odds were stacked against the Huskies entering this series wouldn't surprise anyone. What should surprise everyone was the final score in Thursday night's game. The final goal is shown below.
Goals by Connor Hobbs, Jaxan Kaluski, Jared Dmytriw, Shane Collins, and Justin Ball were enough to pace the Huskies to the 5-3 victory over the Dinos, ending their 23-game winning streak. The win certainly didn't come easily as the Dinos had tied the game up at 3-3 at 3:49 in the third period, but the Huskies continued to play their game and capitalize on opportunities when they found them. The end result sees the Huskies holding a 1-0 series lead over the Dinos in their best-of-three series.

Let's give credit where credit is due as the Huskies didn't let this rather impressive statistic move them away from playing their game. Calgary certainly had chances to make it 24-in-a-row, but the Roddy Ross kept pucks from denting twine, the Huskies' defence did a good job in preventing second chances, and the forwards were mindful in their own defensive zone. The Huskies had a plan, and they executed well in shocking the hockey world with their win last night.

The Dinos will look to start another win streak tonight, though, and they have to make sure it's at least a two-game win streak if they want to play at the U SPORTS National Championship in PEI. Being down 1-0 in the series means that the margin for error is small, so the Dinos need to get back to their winning ways tonight and tomorrow, or that 23-game win streak will be nothing more than a footnote in Canada West hockey history.

You can't convince me that Canada West hockey isn't exciting. We've seen fifth seeds defeat fourth seeds. We had a 23-game win streak come to an end. We've seen a team win its first-ever Canada West playoff game. And we've only played one round and one semifinal game. With Saskatchewan winning last night, it's clear that the Canada West banners in both the men's and women's divisions are wide open for anyone to win.

For the first time this season not involving a streak, the Calgary Dinos are in a must-win situation. For a team that was 25-3-0 this season, it's hard to imagine them being in a must-win game for the season to continue, but that's the reality of their situation after seeing their win streak snapped. If the Dinos lose again this weekend, there will be no happy ending at the University of Calgary.

That's the thing about playoff hockey - everyone elevates their games. As the pundits always tell us, we should throw out the regular season statistics because the playoffs are a different beast. The Saskatchewan Huskies showed that last night when they marched into Jurassic Park and took down Dinos and their impressive regular-season win streak. And now it's on the Dinos to win two-straight games or their chances of winning Canada West go extinct.

For one of the Dinos and Huskies, this weekend will be the end of the road. Right now, the pressure is entirely on Calgary, and last night's loss might have been the beginning of the end.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 23 February 2023

The Hockey Show - Episode 544

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns to Winnipeg airwaves and internet streams across the world via UMFM.com as the chatter over hockey stories and topics fills the audio spectrum. It was a busy week when you consider that playoffs started for six men's and six women's teams at western Canadian universities, there were some awards handed out, and there are semifinal games starting tonight. There were a couple of trades in the NHL, some player movement elsewhere, and a big European tournament concluded. In other words, it was another busy week in the world of hockey and we'll break it all down tonight at 5:30pm CT!

Tonight, Teebz and Jason dive into the Canada West playoff scene for both the men and women as we recap what happened last week before setting up the games this week. The action was pretty incredible, so we'll chat about that, who won awards, who was named to the season-end all-star teams, and what to watch for this weekend as the semifinals get underway. Beyond that, our hosts discuss the rather pathetic plea that Gary Bettman made to Tempe voters, the trades and decisions made as some players moved around in a few different leagues, the Boston Bruins showing everyone what inclusion looks like, and the Champions League in Europe comes to a close! It's another show packed with news and info so join us tonight on The Hockey Show at 5:30pm CT on one of 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via UMFM.com!

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

Tonight, Teebz and Jason chat playoffs, begging, trading, welcoming, winning, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: February 23, 2023: Episode 544

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 22 February 2023

I Believe The Word Is "Målvaktsmål"

You may not recognize the young man to the left, but that's where HBIC comes in as I'll introduce this player to you today. Born in Stockholm, Sweden, 19 year-old Carl Lindbom is a Vegas Golden Knights prospect playing in the HockeyAllsvenskan for Djurgårdens IF. He grew up playing for Djurgårdens' junior team before jumping to Vasterviks IK in 2021-22 for seven games. This season, he returned home to play for Djurgårdens IF where he's been one of the better goalies all season long. Lindbom also played with Sweden at the 2023 World Junior Championship, so it seems the young man has a bright future in the crease no matter where he lands.

Normally, I don't pick random European players to showcase, but Lindbom put himself on the map today. As you know, there's a bit of a time difference between Sweden and Canada, so Lindbom's achievement was actually done in the afternoon by Canadian standards. However, he was the man of the match in Stockholm tonight as Djurgårdens IF battled AIK IF!

Why, you ask? Let's go to the videotape for the details!
With three minutes to play and down 4-1 in the game, AIK dumped the puck into the Djurgården zone where Lindbom stopped the puck behind his net. That's when Lindbom turned with an AIK player bearing down on him, and fired the puck into the air and down the ice. Seconds later, the puck slid inside the right goal post as Carl Lindbom scored his first-ever professional hockey goal to make it 5-1 in favour of Djurgården with 2:52 to play in the third period!

As much as I enjoy celebrating goalie goals, Lindbom has been incredible between the pipes this season as well. As it stands, he's third in HockeyAllsvenskan in goals-against average at 1.96, he's third in wins at 22, he's tied for first in shutouts with five, and he's second in save percentage at 92.77%. He has Djurgården in fourth-place in HockeyAllsvenskan as six teams compete for the top spot in the league while being separated by 14 points (regulation wins are worth 3 points in HockeyAllsvenskan). In short, Lindbom has been exceptional as a 19 year-old, and there's no reason to believe he can't still be better than what he's shown.

It's hard to tell where Lindbom currently fits into Vegas' depth chart with Logan Thompson being 25, Adin Hill being 26, Jiri Patera being 24, and Isaiah Seville being 22. Even their non-NHL goalies aren't that old as Michael Hutchinson is 32, Laurent Brossoit is 29, and Robin Lehner is 31. With four goalies firmly ahead of Lindbom this season, he's going to have to likely play some time in the AHL or the ECHL before getting his break. I'm not certain he should be doing that based on his performance in the HockeyAllsvenskan this season, but it seems clear that the path for him to get to the NHL may include a few stops along the way.

If there are NHL teams looking to add a quality netminder at the trade deadline this year, Carl Lindbom might be a name to include in any trades with Vegas. It's unlikely that he'll be helping that team make a run for the Stanley Cup this year, but he could be backstopping a team in the next few years if his trajectory remains on the same path. Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but Carl Lindbom has shown he score goals as well as stop pucks.

Congratulations to Carl Lindbom on his "målvaktsmål", and here's hoping we see him in the NHL in the coming years. He seems destined to play there, so I hope we see more highlights like this one!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 21 February 2023

New Mailing Addresses

With Canada West teams packing up their locker rooms after their seasons come to an end, new opportunities will be sought by players who are chasing their hockey dreams still. I fully endorse these players looking for their next shot at climbing the ladder, those opportunities often come in places one may not expect. To aid in my following of who is going where, I've been scouring the ECHL and SPHL transaction list to see which players have been signed and we got a couple of updates today that involved neither the ECHL nor the SPHL. Who went where? Let's find out!

We'll start with a guy who was already making inroads in the ECHL as he's off to a new location to continue his career. Tyler Kirkup, who was playing with the ECHL's Reading Royals, had seven goals and eight assists in 43 ECHL games this season. His seventh goal was scored on February 9 while shorthanded in a 4-3 loss to the Norfolk Admirals. It seemed like Tyler was contributing nicely for the Royals based on his role on the team.

Three days later, this announcement hit the transaction list.
Nothing was given in terms of details as to why Kirkup was suspended and removed from the roster, but it seems the Royals and Kirkup came to some sort of agreement to terminate the deal he had signed in the summer to rejoin the Royals. Nevertheless, the news above meant that Kirkup was now a free agent and could sign elsewhere.

Nine days later, Kirkup arrived in Coventry, England where he had signed with the Coventry Blaze for the remainder of the season! As we know, another former Royals player landed in Great Britain a couple of weeks ago, so it seems that the EIHL is the place to be for former Reading Royals! Jokes aside, it's good to see Kirkup land with a solid team as the Blaze have nearly clinched an EIHL playoff spot as they sit in fifth-place with 50 points! The Blaze are 16-12-6-6 this season, but they certainly can use some help on their penalty kill as they sit in the bottom-half of the league at 77.44%. As seen above, Kirkup was playing on the penalty-killing units in Reading, so he should be able to help there if he's assigned to kill penalties.

Tyler will have a few days to get settled into life in Coventry as the Blaze don't play again until February 25 at home against Sheffield, so he'll be able to shake off the jet leg, get his skating legs under him, and get into the Blaze lineup where he can contribute moving forward. The Steelers are in third-place - eleven points ahead of Coventry - so the Blaze will need Kirkup at his best for this weekend. His speed, his gritty play, and his going to the high-traffic areas will be well-suited for the EIHL, and I suspect Tyler will quickly become a fan favourite in Coventry due to his effort on the ice and his personality off it. Tyler Kirkup, in my opinion, is a great addition for the Blaze! Keep an eye on #9 for the remainder of this EIHL season!

The other big signing that didn't show up on an ECHL or SPHL transaction page was a move by the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins. The Griffins are struggling this season at 21-24-2-2 as they sit in sixth-place in the AHL's Central Division. They're 12 points back of fourth-place Rockford, so they need a big push in their final 23 games if they're going to make the playoffs. Being the lowest-scoring team in the division and one of the lowest in the AHL, it's pretty clear that the Griffins need to score more often if they're going to make things interesting down the stretch.

The Griffins addressed that need today by signing one of the highest-scoring players in Canada West over the last two season as they inked Mount Royal Cougars forward Riley Sawchuk to a professional tryout for the remainder of this season and to a standard player's contract for the 2023-24 season. Sawchuk comes to Grand Rapids after playing two seasons at Mount Royal where he scored 35 goals and added 52 assists in 47 games in Canada West, and that successful U SPORTS career came after he played four seasons in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans and Edmonton Oil Kings where his stats improved year after year.

There is no doubt that the Griffins are getting an incredibly gifted forward who finds the back of the net by using speed, skill, and getting to loose pucks, but he doesn't shy away from playing the defensive side of the puck either. He'll be a welcome addition to a Griffins team whose top goal-scorer in Joel L'Esperance has just 16 goals this season. If nothing else, Sawchuk may find himself as a top-six forward if he can find his scoring touch in the AHL. If that were to happen, it's not like the Detroit Red Wings can't use another solid scorer either. If he wants an opportunity to skate in "The Show", Sawchuk is standing before it.

Riley has a couple of days to get himself acclimated to the Griffins' systems as they're hosting the Chicago Wolves on Friday and Saturday who trail the Griffins by one point in the standings. In other words, the Griffins really need to take four points off the Wolves this season to help their climb up the standings, and it seems like Sawchuk, wearing #90, will be in the lineup this weekend if everything goes well. Heck, maybe we'll have a bit of a Canada West reunion as well as former Alberta Golden Bears netminder Zach Sawchenko plays for Chicago!

Their mailing addresses have changed, but there's no doubt that both Coventry and Grand Rapids are getting quality players who will make them better both on and off the ice. I wish Tyler Kirkup nothing but success as he carves a path in the EIHL with the Coventry Blaze, and I hope to see Riley Sawchuk lighting lamps and having a ton of success in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins.

They say that hockey will take you places. Two of those places are Coventry, England and Grand Rapids, Michigan as Kirkup and Sawchuk continue to write their hockey stories!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 20 February 2023

The Monsters Look Good

Back in October, it was announced that the AHL's Cleveland Monsters would take their March 4, 2023 game outdoors to FirstEnergy Stadium where they'd host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. There's a rich history of hockey in Cleveland, so there were all sorts of options for the Monsters to use if they were looking to go historical with their uniforms. The Monsters, meanwhile, have called Cleveland home since 2007 when they were the Lake Erie Monsters, so they also could have some leeway if they had another Lake Erie design they wanted to use. Instead, the Monsters stuck to their current look, and they'll wear the jerseys you see above on March 4 in their outdoor game!

As seen to the left, the uniforms are fairly simply with good striping, a great logo, and a unique base colour. The black-and-champagne stripes work well in breaking up all that blue colour while keeping the traditional hockey sweater look, and the black pants and gloves provide additional contrast. The new logo being used for this game shifts the angled view of the Cleveland Monsters logo to a head-on view, and it works extremely well. Might I even say that I like it more than their normal logo? Because I do. If they put out ballcaps and t-shirts with this logo on it, I'd be mistaken for a Cleveland Monsters fan. That's how much I like the logo. On the shoulders are the Columbus Blue Jackets logo - their NHL affiliate - and the Outdoor Classic logo made for this event. Overall, a very solid uniform for the game!

I assume the Monsters will use their normal fonts for names and numbers on the back with the switch being black numbers outlined by the champagne colour similar to the stripes on these outdoor jerseys, and the names being plated in the champagne colour. If that's the case, the Monsters don't lose any marks for this choice as the font is easy to read and it stays within their font scheme. Let's hope they're going with that because it works.

Nothing has been revealed for the Penguins yet, so we'll await to see what they'll wear on March 4. I know they wore this jersey as a warmup jersey back in 2015-16, but how great would that look across from the blue Monsters jerseys? It's light enough that it doesn't have to be white so we'd get a colour-on-colour game outdoors, and the alternate Penguins logo just looks so good. Maybe we'll see something similar to this by the Penguins? One can hope.

If there's one guarantee, the Cleveland Monsters will look good. Yes, the jerseys could use a shoulder yoke as a touch of colour up top, but these jerseys take the elements of all good jerseys - simple design, clean look, contrasting colours, and a great logo - and put them together. If the Monsters use these as their alternate jerseys moving forward, you won't hear me complain either.

Monsters are normally thought of as scary, unfriendly entities that scare the heck out of anyone they cross. The Cleveland Monsters are going more for a Cookie Monster or Sully from Monsters Inc. with these jerseys in that you wouldn't mind hanging out at a hockey game with them. The Monsters are hoping they'll get to hang out with 67,895 fans on March 4, and I have a feeling many of the fans in the stands at FirstEnergy Stadium will be decked out in blue as well!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 19 February 2023

The Rundown - Quarterfinals

Four teams take the ice this weekend in Canada West women's hockey as the playoffs get underway. Not joining the fun are the Saskatchewan's Cougars, the Griffins, and the Fluffy Cows who failed to make the cut while both the Thunderbirds and Pandas earned a week off by finishing atop the standings. That left the Spartans, Alberta's Cougars, the Huskies, and the Dinos to sort out who would be travelling to Vancouver and Edmonton next week. These four teams needed to be in win-now mode as they kicked off the Canada West playoffs this weekend, so let's find who is moving on and who is going home on this week's edition of The Rundown!

Here's a quick reminder of the playoff setup in terms of matchups.
Normally, I'd mention how we were off to so-and-so city for the first set of recaps, but both of these series were played in Calgary so off to Calgary we go for The Rundown as the Canada West playoffs start!

The fifth-seeded Saskatchewan Huskies made the trek to Calgary to battle the fourth-seeded Calgary Dinos in one of two quarterfinal series in Canada West. Both teams were 0-0-2-2 this season against one another, and both teams had won one overtime game in Calgary. I'm not saying home-ice advantage doesn't matter, but it may not be a factor in this series. Calgary boasted the conference's best goal scorer in Alli Borrow, but the Huskies gave up the fewest goals all season long. Those elements would certainly factor in as Camryn Drever was in net for the Huskies while Gabriella Durante stood between the pipes for the Dinos!

The Huskies got things going early in this one as Kara Kondrat came in on the right side with a shot that was turned away by Durante. The puck landed on the stick of Sara Kendall who threw it cross-crease, and Kondrat, who had circled the net, received the pass and wired a high shot inside the post past Durante's blocker at 3:56 to put the Huskies up 1-0! Calgary would even things up midway through the opening frame courtesy the power-play when Alli Borrow spotted Rebecca Clarke in the slot who had defenders switching on their checks, and that allowed Clarke to zip a shot blocker-side past Drever to make it 1-1! Defence wins championships?

Just 32 seconds after the Calgary power-play goal, Emily Holmes wound up behind her net and went end-to-end before firing a high wrist shot on the blocker-side of Durante that found the back of the net to put Saskatchewan back in front at 2-1. 2:09 after that, the Huskies' power-play went to work as Sophie Lalor's pass from the top of the left circle deflected off a body in front and found twine, and the Huskies led 3-1 at 13:42. That score would hold into the break as these two teams threw caution to the wind in the opening frame with Saskatchewan up by a pair of goals and leading 9-8 in shots.

An early bench minor on Saskatchewan in the second period saw Calgary miss an opportunity, but they'd make up for it just before the midway point of the period. Alli Borrow won a puck battle behind the Huskies' net before spinning and passing the puck out front, and that move may have caught Drever looking the wrong way as Rebecca Clarke corralled the pass and sniped her second goal of the game at 9:45 to cut the Huskies' lead to 3-2!

The Huskies would answer back a few minutes later, though, when Jasper Desmarais' centering pass got all the way back to the point to Emily Holmes, and Holmes' wrist shot found its way through traffic high on the blocker side as Saskatchewan went back up by a pair of goals at 14:17! In a period where Calgary certainly carried the play, they didn't get the results they wanted as Saskatchewan led 4-2 depite trailing 20-12 in shots at the second break.

The third period was all about protecting the lead for the Huskies, and they nearly ran into trouble as they gave the Dinos a couple of power-plays in the period. The good news is that the Huskies' penalty-killing units were up to the task in the final frame. With 3:43 to go in the game, Calgary pulled Durante, but the threat would be erased when Isabella Pozzi hit the vacated net with a shot at 17:07. The Huskies would prevent any further damage in the final three minutes as they skated to the Game One victory over the Dinos by a 5-2 score! Camryn Drever stopped 26 shots for the win while Gabriella Durante made 15 stops in the setback.

With the victory, Saskatchewan holds a 1-0 series lead over Calgary.

Highlights of this game are below! Thank you, Dinos!

Calgary entered Saturday night's game with their collective backs against the wall. They knew there were some elements to their game that would have to be better, so they looked to tighten things up against the Huskies. The Huskies knew the importance of closing out a series after their run last season, so I expected a better effort from them as well. Before the game started, it was announced that Alli Borrow, Calgary's top point producer, was going to miss this game, so it became that much more important that Calgary got off to a good start. As they were one night before, Camryn Drever was in Saskatchewan's blue paint while Gabriella Durante was looking to bounce back in the Dinos' net.

The Dinos were on the same wavelength as I because they got things started early. Sydney Mercier threw a backhanded pass into the middle of the ice from the right half-boards where Brette Kerley grabbed the pass, went to the net on her backhand, and slid a low shot past Drever at 2:49 to put the Dinos up 1-0!

The Huskies killed off a penalty a few minutes later, and they started to get their game going. They'd be rewarded for their efforts at 10:49 when Sara Kendall broke into the Dinos zone one-on-one and ripped a wrister past Durante on the blocker side to make it 1-1! The Huskies kept coming through the second-half of the period, and they'd grab a lead late when Kendra Zuchotzki's shot pinballed its way to the back of the net at 17:35! The Huskies would hold that 2-1 lead into the break as they were up 10-6 in shots.

The second saw five minor penalties handed out to both teams, but only one would factor into the scoring. Calgary would kill off a pair of penalties early before Saskatchewan killed off one of their own, but the third Calgary penalty saw the red lamp lit. Isabella Pozzi's high shot to the glove side eluded the bodies in front of a screen Durante, and the Huskies owned a 3-1 lead at the 12:55 mark. A late power-play for the Dinos did nothing to change the score, so the 3-1 lead held into the second intermission with the teams tied at 15 shots.

Obviously, there was 20 minutes left in Calgary's season unless they found a way to score goals, but Saskatchewan wasn't making it easy. An early Calgary power-play might be one of those opportunities the Dinos will regret, but the Huskies survived the penalty with the two-goal lead intact. The Dinos continued to press, but they could not solve Drever. Durante would head to the bench with 3:42 to play, and the Dinos would finally be rewarded when Keagan Goulet spotted Rebecca Clarke on the backdoor who redirected the pass past Drever with 2:08 to play to make it 3-2!

After the reset, the Dinos would pull Durante for the final 56 seconds of the game, but it was not to be on this night as the Huskies emerged victorious with a 3-2 win! Camryn Drever picked up her second win with a 26-save night while Gabriella Durante will finish her season with a 15-save effort.

With the victory, Saskatchewan eliminates Calgary to advance to the semifinal. They'll know their semifinal opponent based on the results from the other quarterfinal series.

The final set of highlights from the Calgary Dinos are below!

The sixth-seeded Trinity Western Spartans were making their Canada West playoff debut against the third-seeded Mount Royal Cougars in the other Canada West quarterfinal series. Mount Royal held the regular season edge as they were 3-0-1-0 against the Spartans, but 2-0-0 at home where they had outscored the Spartans 8-5 in those games. Perhaps this series would be closer than it seemed on the surface based on those goal-scoring numbers. Trinity Western boasted one of the best goal scorers in Canada West in Amy Potomak, but Mount Royal boasted the top-scoring line in the conference with Amy-Kollman-Jomha. It seemed like we could be in for a lot of goals in this series as Kate Fawcett got the call for Trinity Western's first-ever Canada West playoff game while Kaitlyn Ross guarded the Cougars' cage.

Trinity Western, Canada West's second-most penalized team this season, decided they were going to continue to play with fire in this game as they were called for four penalties resulting in three power-plays for Mount Royal in the opening frame. The good news is that the Spartans' penalty-killers were up to the challenge as they killed off all three power-play opportunities. It didn't result in any major momentum shifts, but the Spartans and Cougars went to the first break tied at 0-0 with Mount Royal holding a 13-5 advantage in shots.

The parade to the penalty box continued in the second period as the Spartans picked up two more penalties while Mount Royal was whistled for one. Neither team could dent twine on the power-play, but we would see a goal with less than five minutes to go in the period. Athena Hauck carried the puck in on the right side before making a great move to get by Chelsea Debusschere, and she finished off the play by going under Fawcett's glove as the goalie slide across the crease to give the Cougars the 1-0 lead at 16:06! Despite Mount Royal giving up one more power-play while Trinity Western gave up an extended power-play, that 1-0 lead would carry into the third period with Mount Royal holding a 26-16 edge in shots.

The third period saw the penalties slow as the Spartans were the only team to commit an infraction. Mount Royal couldn't capitalize again - they'd finish oh-for-8 in this game - but the score still favoured them. Time became the enemy of the Spartans as the period wound down, and Fawcett would head to the bench with 1:31 to play. Despite the extra attacker, Trinity Western couldn't find any cracks in the Mount Royal defence as the horn sounded on the 1-0 Mount Royal victory! Kaitlyn Ross stopped 21 shots for her first win and shutout of the playoffs while Kate Fawcett likely deserved a better fate after stopping 32 shots in her playoff debut.

With the victory, Mount Royal holds a 1-0 lead over Trinity Western in this best-of-three quarterfinal series.

Mount Royal produced a highlight reel! Here are the visuals!

Trinity Western entered Saturday's game with their backs against the wall and needing to record their first-ever Canada West playoff win if they hoped to send this series to a third game on Sunday. Mount Royal was looking to close this series out and book their trip to Edmonton next week. Neither team was looking past this game, though, as there was work to do before the next steps could be taken. It would be the same netminders as the previous night with Kate Fawcett between the pipes for the Spartans while Kaitlyn Ross stood in the Cougars' blue paint.

The first period saw both teams break the rules and sit in the sin bin as Mount Royal was whistled for a penalty first before Trinity Western took two consecutive penalties. The power-play units for both sides were unable to dent twine on their opportunities, so it was a quiet frame on the goal-scoring front. What did stand out was the physical play on both sides with Kaitlyn Ross seemingly under siege all period with players driving the net. However, depite killing two penalties, Trinity Western held a 7-4 edge in shots through the opening twenty minutes with the score locked at 0-0.

The second period continued with the tough play, but the Cougars were the first to battle through it as they came out aggressively. Tatum Amy circled from the left face-off circle into the slot where she got a wrister away, but it was deflected in front by Aliya Jomha and past Fawcett at 4:49 to put the Cougars up 1-0! Trinity Western needed a bounce-back as they were under some serious pressure from Mount Royal, and they'd find it after killing a penalty as they went to the power-play twice with the second one counting on the scoreboard. Amy Potomak's blast from the point went high on Ross for the equalizer with 22 seconds to play in the frame, and Trinity Western's first-ever playoff goal tied this game up at 1-1 through 40 minutes with Mount Royal holding a 23-15 margin in shots.

The third period was fast, exciting, physical, and defensively sound as neither side was willing to give an inch when it came to winning this game. There were chances, but the netminders said no. Even when they were beaten, the iron came into play. A clean period of play saw no goals, no penalties, and no winner found as Game Two between the Spartans and Cougars was heading to overtime tied at 1-1 with Mount Royal holding a 26-21 lead in shots.

Trinity Western decided that overtime wasn't fun enough in the playoffs playing five-vs-five, so they opted to take two penalties within the first minute of the extra period to give Mount Royal a 5-on-3 power-play for 1:49. Between blocked shots, good pressure, and a couple of key clears, the Spartans withstood the Cougars' attack to keep overtime going. And it's probably a good thing they did because Kate Klassen would take a pass from Lainie Nichols at the Mount Royal blue line, escape the stick-checks of Ava Metzger, and pot the overtime game-winner on the backhand over Ross' right pad to give Trinity Western the 2-1 overtime victory at 3:25! Kate Fawcett stopped 29 shots for Trinity Western's first-ever playoff win while Kaitlyn Ross was on the losing end of a 21-save night.

With the victory, the Spartans and Cougars are tied at 1-1 and will require a Game Three in this best-of-three quarterfinal series.

Highlights of this historic Spartans win are below!

Sunday was win-or-go-home day. Do-or-die day. Win-and-you're-still-in day. Rhyming aside, the Spartans and Cougars met in Game Three of their best-of-three series. Both teams had scored twice in the series. Mount Royal was oh-for-13 on the power-play. Trinity Western had scored once in regulation. All of those stats, though, go out the window in a deciding game. Kate Fawcett was back in the Spartans' crease while Kaitlyn Ross stood in front of the Cougars' net.

If there's one thing that Trinity Western shouldn't do, it's tempt fate. Astoundingly, they came out in this game and put three more minor penalties on the board in the first period, but Mount Royal's struggles with the extra player continued. Chances were seen at both ends, but the goalies and defenders were quick to recover to limit second chances. When the horn sounded on the opening frame, the 0-0 score held, Mount Royal led 10-9 in shots, and the Cougars would start the second period with 1:15 of power-play time.

The foreshadowing I did in the previous paragraph should have been a clue that something was about to change. Athena Hauck one-timed a feed from Aliya Jomha from the left face-off dot, and she got enough of it to squeeze it between the post and Fawcett to put the Cougars up 1-0 on the power-play just 45 seconds into the period! Mount Royal took a penalty minutes later, but Trinity Western could not convert. The back-and-forth action continued through the frame, and a late Mount Royal ppwer-play was negated by a penalty of their own. At the end of forty minutes, the Cougars led 1-0 and held a 20-10 advantage in shots. Yes, the Spartans only managed one shot on net in that period despite having solid zone time.

Early in the the third period, Mount Royal decided to make things interesting as they were whistled for a four-minute double-minor penalty, and that was the opening that Trinity Western needed. Amy Potomak threw a low shot-pass towards the net that Kate Klassen redirected past Ross at 3:17 while on the power-play, and the game was tied at 1-1. Minutes later, the Cougars put on a clinic for drop passes as Jori Hansen-Young brought the puck across the line into Spartans territory before dropping a pass to Kaia Borbandy who skated into the slot before dropping a pass to Ava Metzger who wired a wrist shot past Fawcett at 6:54 to put the Cougars up 2-1!

Another penalty taken by Mount Royal was killed off as Trinity Western missed a glorious opportunity to pull even, and they'd pay for it minutes later while killing a penalty of their own when Breanne Trotter, at the side of the net, chipped the puck past the post and over Fawcett's pad on power-play at 14:16 to make it 3-1 for the Cougars. Mount Royal would take one final penalty with 1:20 to play, and the Spartans went to a 6-on-4 for the final minute. The Cougars, though, wouldn't falter as the final horn sounded on a 3-1 Mount Royal win over the Trinity Western Spartans! Kaitlyn Ross picked up her second win of the playoffs aftr stopping 17 shots while Kate Fawcett made 28 stops in her final game of the 2022-23 season.

With the victory, Mount Royal eliminates Trinity Western to advance to the semifinal. They'll move on to play the Alberta Pandas in Edmonton while the Saskatchewan Huskies, by virtue of this result, will head to Vancouver to tangle with the UBC Thunderbirds.

Highlights of the deciding game in this series are below!

The Bracket

With both Saskatchewan and Mount Royal advancing, we'll see a rematch of the Canada West Final from last season take place in Vancouver as the Huskies and Thunderbirds renew acquaintances. The Cougars will make the trek north to Edmonton to tangle with Pandas. It should be noted that the two teams that win either series will automatically qualify as the Canada West teams who will go to the U SPORTS National Championship in Montreal!

The times shown on the image above are the times shown on the UBC schedule, so I'd take them as being the official game times for each of the three games. Those times, of course, as in Pacific Time.

Alberta has yet to post times, but they'll need to coordinate with the men's team who are hosting UBC in that semifinal. That schedule will be released later this week.

The Numbers

It should be noted that the Huskies are heading to Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Arena where the T-Birds are 14-0 this season, and 19-0 including playoffs last season. Nothing will come easy for the Huskies, but they can take comfort in being one team that defeated the Thunderbirds this season. Back on October 14, they recorded a 3-2 win in Saskatoon, so there is some hope that Huskies fans can have in this series. After a week of rest and practice, though, the Thunderbirds might be more dangerous than ever.

In the other series, Alberta was 2-0 against Mount Royal on home ice this season, and 3-1 overall in the season series. The Cougars were two of the eleven-straight wins that the Pandas recorded this season, so the Pandas likely will be looking to tack another couple of losses on the Cougars' record. Where things might be troublesome for the Cougars is that they've never beaten the Pandas twice on the same weekend in their history, meaning that they're going to have to do it for the first time if they want to go to Nationals this season.

The Last Word

This likely won't be the last we hear from Calgary and Trinity Western over the next few seasons. Calgary has a solid foundation on which they're building, and Trinity Western gained a pile of experience this season after their run to the playoffs. Getting a taste of the playoffs is never enough, so I expect both teams to use this experience to prepare for next season.

Mount Royal found enough secondary scoring in their series to overcome a lack of scoring by their top line. That bodes well against the Pandas as everyone needs to be capitalizing on opportunities when it comes to beating Alberta. The Pandas, meanwhile, will need to come out ready for their battle with the Cougars. Alberta lost a pair of games to UBC in Week 8 following a bye week, and they split with the Fluffy Cows in the final week following their second bye. Going 1-3 after bye weeks isn't the best trend to have, so the Pandas will need to be ready to play next weekend.

Saskatchewan showed all sorts of scoring and defence in their games against Calgary, and they're still without Kennedy Brown who brings another bag of tricks with her. If she can return this week, that will help in their battle against UBC immensely. UBC posted a 4-0 record - including going 2-0 at home against Saskatchewan - following their bye weeks, so don't look for a trend there. Instead, the Thunderbirds need to keep their opponents off balance with their quick transitions and solid special teams. If the games slow down, that favours Saskatchewan and we saw that happen in their four losses prior to November 26 this season.

One weekend is in the books. Four teams remain. The action was incredible this week, and we'll do it all over again next weekend with Saskatchewan meeting UBC and Mount Royal visiting Alberta. Playoff hockey is the best hockey, and it starts again next Friday!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!