Sunday, 16 November 2014

3 on 3 OT is the best

The Cougars and Huskies in action on Saturday.
            Three-versus-three overtime is a winner, even if it didn’t decide Saturday’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport men’s hockey game between the Saskatchewan Huskies and Regina Cougars at the ancient Rutherford Rink.
            Both the CIS men’s and women’s hockey leagues have a unique overtime format for the regular season. If a game is tied after regulation, both teams play a five minute overtime period with four skaters per side. If the contest is still tied after that frame, the two clubs play through another five-minute overtime stanza with three skaters per side.
            If the game is still tied after the second five-minute overtime period, you advance to a shootout format that is used in the NHL and major junior ranks.
            The theory of having the three-on-three overtime frame is it doesn’t totally eliminate the team aspect of hockey like the shootout does, which becomes a skater against a goaltender duel, and it also could be as or even more exciting than the shootout.
            The three-on-three overtime frame between the Huskies and Cougars was definitely more exciting than the shootout. If you saw that extra session live in person, you would not be able to come away with an observation other than that.
            The Huskies played about 1:30 of the frame on the power play, but pretty much the rest of the time was three-on-three hockey. With only three skaters per side, there was a whole bunch of open ice available and the skaters used.
            There were piles of good scoring chances created, and the forwards and defenders that hit the ice showed whole piles of imagination. Skilled and aggressive offensive play was the name of the game. The game should have ended with a goal in that period but credit the work of Huskies goaltender Jordon Cooke and Cougars goaltender Lucas Gore for keeping the pucks out of their respective nets.
            Both puck stoppers had to make way more difficult saves in the three-on-three overtime session than they did in the first 65 minutes of the game. You came out more in awe of how well both goaltenders did.
            During that extra period, it was hard to stay in your seat that night at the Rutherford Rink.
            When the shootout took place, the Huskies took that tiebreaker 2-0 with goals coming from Jesse Ross and Parker Thomas for 2-1 overall victory in the contest. Craig McCallum scored for the Huskies in the first period, while Miguel Pereira scored for the Cougars to tie things up at 1-1 with two seconds to play in the second.
            Cooke made 40 stops through 70 minutes and turned back both shooters he faced in the shootout for the win. Gore made 37 stops over 70 minutes, but failed to make a save in the shootout in the setback.
            The three-on-three overtime period is used in a few other hockey leagues, but it is not used in the NHL of in hockey’s major junior ranks. It would be cool of those loops would correct that oversight.
            If draws are not part of the game, the three-on-three overtime period would be great to have in the extra time format as another opportunity to keep team play involved, while still opening up play.
            On Saturday night in the Western Hockey League, the host Brandon Wheat Kings downed the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers 3-2 after a shootout at Westman Place. Both squads are sitting in the top four of the WHL’s overall standings at the moment, and they are loaded with offensively talented players, who would put on quite the show in a three-on-three overtime frame.
            If the Tigers talented forwards of Cole Sanford and Trevor Cox along with offensive defenceman Tommy Vannelli could face their Wheat Kings counterparts in forwards Rihards Bukarts and Jayce Hawryluk and offensive defenceman Ivan Provorov in a three-on-three situation, you can’t even imagine the plays that could be made.
            Until the NHL and the major junior ranks visit the idea of a three-on-three overtime frame, it will be a hidden gem in leagues like the CIS. 

Expect the Huskies to bounce back

The Cougars and Huskies faceoff on Friday.
            The Huskies women’s hockey team might have dropped two overtime heartbreakers on the weekend to the Regina Cougars, but you get the feeling they will get past that obstacle.
            When bad things happen to the Huskies, they keep showing they have the ability to rebound and push forward. That was seen during Friday’s clash with the Cougars at the Rutherford Rink.
            The Cougars jumped in front 2-0 with power-play goals from Brooklyn Moskowy and Caitlin Dempsey. The Huskies rebounded with power-play markers from the sticks of Kaitlin Willoughby and a point blast from rearguard Julia Flinton.
            Regina bounced on a bad line change in overtime by the Huskies resulting in Emma Waldenberger netting the winner in a 3-2 Cougars victory.
            Toni Ross made 18 stops to pick up with win, while Cassidy Hendricks turned away 20 shots in the loss.
            On Saturday in Regina, Kylie Gavelin scored early in overtime to give the Cougars a 1-0 decision over the Huskies. Jennifer Schmidt made 27 stops in net for the win for the Cougars (8-3-1), while Hendricks turned away 36 shots in goal for the Huskies (7-3-2).
            The Huskies play their last four games before the Christmas break at home, so they have a good opportunity to get another other roll before the focus switches to the classroom and final exams.         

Roughriders’ loss continues season of CFL stinkers

             The Saskatchewan Roughriders loss in the West Division semifinal seemed to mirror all that was wrong with the CFL this season.
            During the campaign, many fans groaned that way too many games lacked excitement, lacked offence and games were dragged down due to inconsistent penalty calling by the officials. Struggling offence was a theme in 2014, because of bad execution as opposed to stellar defensive play.
            On Sunday in Edmonton, the host Eskimos downed the Roughriders 18-10 in a contest that was hardly a classic. In a group effort, everyone was bad in that game. The Eskimos won because they performed less poorly than the Roughriders and the officials.
            To be blunt, the Roughriders were the worst team on the field, the officials the second worst and the Eskimos third worst. It felt like fans of the Roughriders and Eskimos would be the only people that could stay hooked watching this game. Any casual football watcher would have flipped to see what was happening in the NFL.
            The East semifinal in Montreal wasn’t much more to write home about as the host Alouettes destroyed the visiting B.C. Lions 50-17. The Alouettes put up 50 points with 291 yards of offence. To be fair, Montreal’s defence did play well.
            Management in CFL offices has to be cringing a little as to how Sunday’s playoff games went. They also have to be praying the East and West finals this coming Sunday end up being better contests.
The Als travel to Hamilton to play the Tiger-Cats, while the Esks head to Calgary to take on the Stampeders.

If you have any feedback on this blog, feel free to email comments to