Monday, 24 November 2014

New rule adds to dogfight in Can West women’s hockey

Lauren Zary wheels with the puck for the Huskies.
            Wow! Two regulation wins later and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies jump from a tie for fifth into a tie for first in the Canada West women’s hockey standings.
            Last weekend, the Huskies swept away the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns by scores of 3-0 and 2-0 on Friday and Saturday night respectively at the ancient Rutherford Rink. The victories allowed the Huskies to improve to 9-3-2 and vault into a four-way tie for first in the conference with 26 points at the halfway point of the regular season.
            The four-way tie was caused because the women’s Canada West conference is using a news system for tallying points in the standings this season, which is similar to one used in the Olympics. Regulation time wins are worth three points, extra time wins two points and one point is awarded for an extra time loss.
The same system is being utilized in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League.
            The Huskies recorded their 26 points thanks to six regulation wins. The other three teams with 26 points include the Alberta Pandas (9-5) with eight regulation wins, the Manitoba Bisons (9-4-1) with seven regulation wins, and the UBC Thunderbirds (8-3-3) also with seven regulation wins.
            The Calgary Dinos are a point back of that foursome with a 7-3-4 record. All of their wins have come in regulation. The Regina Cougars sit holding the final playoff berth in the conference at 9-4-1, but they only have 22 points in the standings due to only winning three times in regulation.
            If the standings were still tallied the old way where a win in any form was worth two points, the Huskies would have been alone in first with 20 points. The Bisons, Thunderbirds and Cougars would have all been tied for second with 19 points. The final two playoff berths would be held by the Pandas and Dinos tied with 18 points.
            So what does one make of the logjam?
            The rule for putting in three points for a regulation win was put in to reward a squad for earning victory in the regular three periods of play. The idea of this rule has been bantered around at the NHL level. In theory, it was expected earning three points for a regulation win would create more separation in the standings.
            In the Canada West women’s standings where there isn’t that much difference between the teams, the standings are still tight even with three points being awarded for a regulation win.
            The Regina Cougars could argue they are the biggest loser under the new system. To be fair, they found the heart to get six wins done in extra time, but are given no reward for having that heart. That is the downfall of a system that awards three points for a regulation win as opposed to giving two points for any type of win.
            For me, the jury is still out on which system is better. The final judgment will likely be made during the Canada West league meetings in the off-season.
            As for the Huskies at this point in time of the season, there are always things to improve on, but they have to be really happy with where they sit. They have been very consistent in executing game plans, overcoming points of adversity and taking each step of the way very professionally.
They are not visibly too high after wins or too low after setbacks, and that is a very impressive thing to see.
In the sweep of the Pronghorns, the Huskies big players came through. Goaltender Cassidy Hendricks made 34 save over the two matches to up her shutout total to three on the season.
Marley Ervine, Kaitlin Willoughby and Julia Flinton had singles on the first night. Rachel Johnson scored twice on the second night.
They conclude play before heading into the Christmas break and final exam period this coming Friday and Saturday hosting Mount Royal University Cougars (2-9-3) at 7 p.m. each night at the Rutherford Rink.

Back to .500

Michael Sofillas in action for the Huskies.
            The Huskies men’s hockey team extended their winning streak to three games earning a pair of wins on the road against the Pronghorns.
            On Friday, the Huskies exploded for a 3-0 lead and held on for a 3-2 win. Michael Sofillas, who is starting to find an offensive touch, scored twice, while Sean Aschim had a single. Ryan Holfeld made 31 saves for the win.
            On Saturday, the Huskies posted a much more convincing 5-1 victory. Josh Roach scored twice, while Matthew Spafford, Sofillas and Parker Thomas all had singles. Jordon Cooke made 29 saves to pick up the win.
            The Huskies (8-8) have been up and down in the goal scoring department this season, so they will be looking to keep the offensive numbers up during their final two games before the Christmas break. They travel to Calgary this coming Friday and Saturday to take on the Mount Royal University Cougars (10-6).
            Those two clubs split their two meetings earlier this month at the Rutherford Rink.

Collins is on fire

The Huskies men's basketball team huddles around their bench.
            Dadrian Collins was sinking threes like he was a secret character on that 1990s legendary video game NBA Jam on Saturday.
            The fifth-year forward went off for the Huskies men’s basketball team from beyond the arch going 8-for-8 from downtown on Saturday at the Physical Activity Complex on the U of Saskatchewan campus. He hit seven of his threes in the game’s first half. Overall, he finished the contest with 28 points helping the Huskies cruise to a 95-70 victory over the University of Victoria Vikes.
            One night earlier, the Huskies downed the Vikes 82-70, and fourth-year guard Michael Scott led the way for the Dogs with 19 points. The Huskies sit at 4-2 in regular season play.
            The Huskies women’s team earned a sweep over the Vikes winning 71-62 on Friday and 89-68 on Saturday. Star post Dalyce Emmerson led the way leading the Huskies with 17 and 20 points on respective nights.

 One year anniversary of Grey Cup joy

Mosaic Stadium at the close of the 101st Grey Cup.
            Most people in Saskatchewan will be able to remember where they were a year ago today.
            The Saskatchewan Roughriders blasted the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 45-23 in the 101st Grey Cup at Mosaic Stadium, which I still refer to commonly as Taylor Field. It was the last Grey Cup to be played as Mosaic, as a new stadium is currently being built in Regina.
            The contest also marked the first time the Roughriders were in the Grey Cup final at home and the only time they would win the legendary trophy on the field they have called home since 1910.
            I was at the game in person and being there in person was beyond anything you could have imagined for the bucket list. I have been at Taylor Field in many difference capacities for many football games at various levels, and the 101st Grey Cup was definitely the most memorable.
            I also remember partying until like 5:30 a.m. out in the streets and in various locations in Regina. I think it took like two days to sleep that all off.
            The night had a euphoric experience from a fan perspective I had never seen before or since. I could not imagine what the feeling was like for the players, and I had a few buds on the team.
            As for players, I was most happy for quarterback Darian Durant, who put so many years of hard work in with the team and finally won the big one as the starter. In my handful of dealings with him, it is very evident he cares a lot about the Roughriders franchise, and I still don’t think the team’s fan base fully appreciates that fact.
            I was also really happy for my old Regina Rams bud Neal Hughes, who won his second Grey Cup ring. He took the victory with the joy of a little kid playing minor football on Regina’s Leibel Field.
            In my heart, I hope that wasn’t the last Grey Cup win he tasted as a player. The 34-year-old fullback was limited to playing just two games because of a nagging foot injury this past season. After 11 seasons in the league, there is no certainty his playing days will continue.
            With that said, it is great for today to look back and remember how great the day was.

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