|The Stars and Bears are set to battle in the SFMAAAHL finals.|
On Friday at 8:30 p.m., the Stars and Bears will open their best-of-five Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League championship series at the ancient Rutherford Rink on the campus of the University of Saskatchewan. It is believe this will be the last competitive playoff hockey encounter at the 88-year-old home of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies hockey teams, which will be replaced by the new twin pad rink complex being constructed on campus named Merlis Belsher Place.
During Huskies games, it is common for rust from the ceiling beams to fall on the ice, if a puck hits the roof. The cleanup of the rust on the ice creates a “rust break.”
The Stars actually experienced a “rust break” in their current home the Agriplace Arena back on March 11, 2017, when they defeated the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats 4-0 to sweep a best-of-five SFMAAAHL semifinal series 3-0.
|Abby Soyko topped the Bears in scoring with 38 points.|
When this year’s SFMAAAHL championship series starts, the Stars and Bears might experience this stoppage that has become infamous with the Ruthy.
As for the series itself, the Stars and Bears are battling in the SFMAAAHL title series for the right to claim the Fedoruk Cup for the second straight year and the third time in four years. The Stars swept the Bears 3-0 to take the title series in 2015, while the Bears turned the tables and swept the Stars 3-0 in last year’s championship set.
During the regular season, the Stars won three of the four head-to-head encounters between the two clubs. The Bears claimed the final meeting 2-1 coming back on Dec. 20, 2017 at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert.
The Stars finished first overall in the SFMAAAHL regular season with a 24-3-1 mark, while the Bears were second overall with a 22-5-1 record.
Stars captain Mackenna Parker topped the SFMAAAHL in scoring with 33 goals and 27 assists in 23 regular season games. She equaled the Stars team record for most points scored in one regular season at 60 first set by Emily Clark, who is a member of Canada’s senior national team, in the 2011-12 campaign.
|Mackenna Parker led the Stars in scoring with 60 points.|
Stars forward Anna Leschyshyn finished second in SFMAAAHL scoring with 24 goals and 29 assists appearing in all 28 regular season games. Skilled centre Grace Shirley was fourth in SFMAAAHL scoring recording 30 goals and 18 assists in 23 regular season games with the Stars.
Winger Joelle Fiala piled up 18 goals and 22 assists to finish seventh in league scoring appearing in all 28 regular season games for the Stars.
Sophomore 15-year-old defender Ashley Messier was the Stars power-play quarterback leading all the team’s rearguards in scoring with three goals and 23 assists.
Jordan Ivanco is the odds on favourite probable starter in goal for the Stars posting a 12-1-1 record, a 1.76 goals against average, a .917 save percentage and one shutout in 14 regular season appearances.
For the defending SFMAAAHL champion Bears, forward Abby Soyko topped the team in scoring recording 21 goals and 17 assists appearing in all of her team’s 28 regular season games to sit eighth overall in the league.
|The Stars and Bears have good respect for each other.|
Jasper Desmarais was second in Bears team scoring with 10 goals and 16 assists. Camryn Amundson and Kate Ball each recorded 25 points this season to sit right behind Desmarais.
Amundson recorded 11 goals and 14 assists, while Ball had seven goals and 18 assists.
On the back end, physical defender Jordan Ashe keeps improving as an all-around player and led all Bears rearguards in scoring with seven goals and 13 assists. She also topped the team with 42 penalty minutes.
Captain Hannah Koroll was second in scoring among all Bears defenders recording three goals and 14 assists in 26 regular season games.
Ryan Fontaine is the probable starter in the Bears goal posting a 13-3 record, a 1.70 goals against average, a .925 save percentage and three shutouts in 17 regular season appearances.
Game 2 of the series is set for Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert. Game 3 will be on Tuesday, March 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Agriplace Arena.
If necessary, Game 4 will be held on Saturday, March 31 at the Art Hauser Centre, and Game 5 will be on Sunday, April 1 at 7 p.m. at the Agriplace Arena.
Huskies’ Masikewich named to Commonwealth Games team
|Summer Masikewich (#11) is Commonwealth Games bound.|
Summer Masikewich is receiving a welcome extension to her basketball season.
On Tuesday, the star forward with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team was named to the roster of Canada’s women’s team that will play at the Commonwealth Games, which will run April 4-15 in Gold Coast, Australia. The 19-year-old Calgary, Alta., product completed her second season with the Huskies finishing second in team scoring averaging 16.1 points per game, and she topped the Huskies averaging 6.9 rebounds per game.
Masikewich, who stands 6-foot-2, helped the Huskies finish second overall in the Canada West Conference with a 17-3 record during the regular season. She was key in helping the Huskies make the Canada West title game on March 2 in Regina, which they fell 75-55 to the host University of Regina Cougars.
At the U Sports nationals elite eight tournament in Regina, Masikewich aided the Huskies run to the title game on March 11, where they dropped a 69-48 decision to the Carleton University Ravens.
On the international stage, Masikewich was a member of Canada’s Junior Women’s National team in 2016 and 2017.
Back in the Express with feature on Rush coach
|Rush HC and GM Derek Keenan speaks at a rally in 2017.|
Keenan is the all-time leader in career head coaching victories in the history of the National Lacrosse League, and he is basically the circuit’s Scotty Bowman.
The bench boss is pretty personable, and the 56-year-old showed his sense of humour when he was asked to reflect on his wins record.
“I’m old,” said Keenan with a laugh. “I’ve been doing it a long time.”
Keenan has the Rush leading the entire NLL at the moment with an 11-2 record. Local area fans will be pumped to know the Rush play four of their final five regular season games at home. That final stretch of games begins on Saturday when the Rush host the Rochester Knighthawks (6-7) at 7:30 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre.
I found my one-on-one interview with Keenan to be real enjoyable, and I came away thinking the Rush were lucky to have him as their head coach and general manager.
The story on Keenan can be found right here.
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