Thursday, 21 March 2019

Stars advance to SFMAAAHL final for fifth straight year

Saskatoon eliminates Notre Dame with 3-1 win in Game 4

Joelle Fiala scored the winning goal for the Stars on Thursday.
    A slight scare ultimately couldn’t keep the Saskatoon Stars from returning to the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League championship series for a fifth straight year.
    On Thursday at the Duncan McNeill Arena in Wilcox, the Stars fell behind 1-0 to the host Notre Dame Hounds before rallying for a 3-1 victory in Game 4 of a SFMAAAHL semifinal series. With the win, the Stars take the best-of-five series 3-1.
    Saskatoon advances to the best-of-five SFMAAAHL championship series to play for the Fedoruk Cup for a fifth straight year. The Stars won the league title in 2015, 2016 and last season.
    They will face the Regina Rebels in this year’s league final. Saskatoon topped the SFMAAAHL regular season standings with a 27-1 record, while Regina finished second with a 17-7-4 mark. The dates and times for the SFMAAAHL final are still to be announced.
    The Stars were forced to play a Game 4 of their semifinal series against the Hounds on Thursday after Notre Dame prevailed 2-1 in double overtime in Game 3 on Tuesday at Merlis Belsher Place in Saskatoon.
    Notre Dame hit the scoreboard first in Game 4 when 16-year-old defender Jada Livingston scored at the 10:21 mark of the first period to give the host side a 1-0 edge.
Kaitlyn Ross made 25 saves in goal for the Hounds on Thursday.
    Coming out after the first intermission, the Stars proceeded to control play the rest of the way.
    At the 3:58 mark of the second, Stars 15-year-old sophomore forward Makena Kushniruk potted the equalizer that forced a 1-1 tie.
    Veteran centre Joelle Fiala netted what would be the game and series winner for the Stars just over four minutes after Kushniruk’s tally to put Saskatoon ahead 2-1.
    Veteran forward Anna Leschyshyn added a key insurance marker at the 9:27 mark of the third to round out the 3-1 victory for the visitors.
    Arden Kliewer made 12 stops to pick up the win in goal for the Stars. Kaitlyn Ross turned away 25 shots to take the setback in goal for the Hounds in the final outing of her stellar midget AAA career.
    Notre Dame finished fifth in the SFMAAAHL with a 12-13-3 regular season record and eliminated the Prince Albert Northern Bears 3-1 in a best-of-five SFMAAAHL quarter-final series.
    Last season, the Stars swept the Bears 3-0 in the best-of-five SFMAAAHL championship series. Saskatoon will be making a record eighth overall appearance in the league final.

Bohlken’s OT winner pushes Rebels into SFMAAAHL final

Larissa Bohlken scored the OT winner for the Rebels.
    Larissa Bohlken found some magic in overtime to become a playoff hero for the Regina Rebels.
    On Wednesday at the Fairview Arena in Swift Current, Bohlken, who is a sophomore defender, scored the winner at the 4:13 mark of overtime to give her Rebels a 3-2 victory over the host Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats in Game 4 of a SFMAAAHL semifinal series. With the win, the Rebels take the best-of-five series 3-1.
    Regina advances to the best-of-five SFMAAAHL championship series to play for the Fedoruk Cup for the first time since 2014. The Rebels fell in that year’s league final to the Weyburn Richardson Pioneer Gold Wings, who advanced on to win the Esso Cup as national female midget AAA hockey champions.
    Regina won the SFMAAAHL championship in the 2012-13 season and advanced to the Esso Cup national championship tournament finishing fourth.
    The Rebels will face the defending SFMAAAHL champion Saskatoon Stars in the best-of-five SFMAAAHL final. The schedule for the SFMAAAHL championship series is still to be announced.
    Against the Wildcats on Wednesday, the Rebels took a 2-0 lead in the second period with goals coming from the sticks of veteran forward Lauren Focht and Bohlken, who scored her first of two on the night.
    The Wildcats evened things up at 2-2 early in the third period with goals coming from the sticks of 17-year-old veteran forward Carissa Hogan and SFMAAAHL MVP Taylor Lind. Lind scored short-handed to force the 2-2 tie with 14:14 remaining in the third period.
Taylor Lind scored for the Wildcats on Wednesday.
    Both Hogan and Lind ultimately played the final games of the respective stellar midget AAA careers.
    After the Wildcats tied things up, that set the stage for Bohlken to score her second goal of the night to become the overtime hero for the Rebels.
    Chantel Weller stopped 21 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Rebels. Amaya Giraudier turned away 29 shots to take the setback in goal for the Wildcats.
    The Rebels finished second in the SFMAAAHL regular season standings with a 17-7-4 mark, while the Wildcats placed third with a 17-10-1 record.
    The Rebels and Wildcats split the first two games of their SFMAAAHL semifinal series. Regina went ahead 2-1 in the series taking Game 3 on Tuesday 4-2 at the Co-operators Centre in Regina.
    In that contest, Emma DeCorby, Kaylee Dyer, Focht and Jordan Fry netted singles for the Rebels. Kamryn Johnson and Sara Kendall replied with singles for the Wildcats.
    Weller made 27 stops to pick up the win in goal for the Rebels. Giraudier turned away 19 shots to take the setback in goal for the Wildcats.
    The Rebels swept away the Melville Prairie Fire 3-0 in a best-of-five SFMAAAHL quarter-final series. The Wildcats swept away the Battlefords Sharks 3-0 in another best-of-five SFMAAAHL quarter-final series.
    Back in 2013, the Rebels swept the Prince Albert Northern Bears 3-0 in the best-of-five SFMAAAHL championship series.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Huskies had great season but still get in their own way

Levi Cable, left, and Taran Kozun celebrate a Huskies win.
    The University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team had a great season in 2018-19, which will overshadow the hiccups at the end of the campaign.
    Still, it feels like some of the Huskies players in the generation after the era of Derek Hulak and the late Cody Smuk like to get in their own way a little too often. Under head coach Dave Adolph, the Huskies players in the current generation have improved on cutting down the self-inflicted wounds.
    Unfortunately, the self-inflicted errors seem to pop up at the worst times possible, and those times often involve games with their “forever rivals” the University of Alberta Golden Bears.
    The most recent round of Huskies having “oops” moments came at the David Johnston University Cup, which wrapped up Sunday in Lethbridge, Alta. The majority of the “oops” moments came in a semifinal game of the U Sports national championship tournament on Saturday between the Huskies and the Golden Bears, which was the 512th overall meeting between the two sides.
Carter Folk (#13) threw a bad hit in a U Sports semifinal game.
   The first error came when Huskies sophomore right-winger Carter Folk nailed Golden Bears super pest Trevor Cox from behind into the boards at the Enmax Centre. Folk received a major penalty for checking from behind and a game misconduct.
    While the Golden Bears didn’t score on the five-minute power play due to the Huskies outstanding penalty killing, Folk’s penalty helped swing the momentum of the game in U of A’s favour.
    The Huskies played strong in a scoreless first period and had a 16-13 advantage in shots on goal. After Folk’s penalty, the Golden Bears held an 18-5 advantage in shots on goal in the second period and a 32-17 advantage in that department over the final 40 minutes of the contest.
    Folk is a physical forward who plays on the edge, and sometimes goes over that edge. The replays of his hit on Cox looked bad.
    With the period about to end, it was a hit that didn’t need to be delivered. With Cox being an agitator, one was left to wonder if Folk couldn’t resist getting in an extra shot on a player that had been a thorn in the side of the Huskies.
    No matter what, it wasn’t a smart play.
Taran Kozun had a costly misadventure with the puck.
    After the teams played through a scoreless second, Golden Bears captain Riley Kieser gave his side a 1-0 lead at the 1:38 mark of the third period. That set the stage for another big Huskies gaff.
    At the 10:32 mark of the third, Huskies netminder Taran Kozun, who was named the U Sports goaltender of the year, was a little too casual when he decided to backwards pass the puck behind his own net.
    Kozun passed the puck right to Golden Bears left-winger Grayson Pawlenchuk, who quickly helped set up U Sports player of the year Luke Filip to put U of A up 2-0.
    Due to the fact the Huskies weren’t able to score in that semifinal game, it could be argued that Kozun’s error didn’t cost U of S the contest. It did create a huge hill to climb as only 9:28 remained in the third period.
    If the Huskies need to score once to force overtime, it tightens up the pressure on the Golden Bears defence and goaltending for the rest of the contest. A two-goal advantage at that juncture gave the Golden Bears comfortable control of the proceedings.
    You can bet Kozun felt awful about what happened. On an obvious error like that, you hope he remembers the importance of being alert at all points of the game in future seasons.
    Of course, there were the fireworks that happened inside of the final 31 seconds of the third period. After Pawlenchuk scored an empty-net goal to cement a 3-0 Golden Bears victory, frustrations boiled over and fists started to fly as a major scrum ensued.
Captain Jesse Forsberg was involved in some rough stuff in a U Sport semi.
    From that melee, Huskies fifth-year captain Jesse Forsberg and his younger brother in Huskies left-winger Alex Forsberg both received instigator minors, fighting majors and game misconducts.
    Huskies left-winger Collin Shirley and Golden Bears defenceman Graeme Craig each received roughing minors and 10-minute misconducts. Golden Bears defenceman Sawyer Lange received a fighting major and a game misconduct.
    Right before the game ended, Huskies fourth-year centre Kohl Bauml was booted for receiving a slashing major and a game misconduct.
    When you see these penalties on a game sheet, one starts to wonder if the Huskies crossed the line and how far reaching would the suspensions be?
    When you see the video, it looks like the common scrum and everything from it would quickly blow over.
    On Twitter, a number of Golden Bears supporters and a handful of members from the Edmonton sports media fired off harsh criticisms at Huskies players and the Huskies men’s hockey program.
Alex Forsberg engaged in some rough stuff too.
    It seems to be forgotten that members of the Golden Bears like to partake in pest work that is a bit underhanded like Cox, Cole Sanford and Brandon Magee, so the U of A side can’t be dismissed as perfect angels either.
    Actually in the cases of Jesse Forsberg and Bauml, they have always been viewed as favourites by the rink staff at the Huskies former home in the ancient Rutherford Rink and their new one in the magnificent Merlis Belsher Place. It is common for them to have almost daily short visits with rink staffers and take genuine interest in how everyone’s day is going.
    Going back to his WHL days with the Prince George Cougars, Seattle Thunderbirds and Moose Jaw Warriors, Forsberg developed a reputation that he could get rambunctious, let his emotions get the best of him and ultimately cost his team.
    During his five seasons with the Huskies, Forsberg improved a tonne when it came to playing an under control game. Under Adolph and his coaching staff, Forsberg became a star offensive-defenceman and became the player he should have been in the WHL, where he was type casted to be a tough guy.
    He developed to the point he could play in the NHL, but NHL executives tend to overlook 25-year-old players from U Sports.
    Following the loss to the Golden Bears, the Huskies moved on to play in Sunday’s bronze medal game without the two Forsbergs and Folk, who were all suspended. Bauml did suit up for the Huskies on Sunday.
Kohl Bauml lost his cool in a U Sports semifinal.
    U of S showed a lot more discipline giving up only three power-play chances to the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men. The Huskies dominated play holding a 49-16 edge in shots on goal, but came out on the wrong end of a 5-1 final score.
    Fifth-year hard working right-winger Parker Thomas had the Huskies lone goal in his final U Sports game coming inside of the final minute of the third period, when the X-Men were up 5-0. Thomas, Jesse Forsberg and Huskies left-winger Michael Sofillas all exhausted their U Sports eligibility with Sunday’s setback.
    On a side note, the Golden Bears fell in the national final 4-2 on Sunday to the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds.
    In the overall scheme of things, the Huskies 2018-19 season won’t be defined by what took place in their final two games at U Sports nationals. Ultimately, the only thing that will be remember from the David Johnston University Cup for the Huskies was the fact they finished fourth at that event.
    The 2018-19 campaign will be remembered for the fact the Huskies finished first in the Canada West Conference at 25-3 posting a new team record for regular season wins at 25 and standings points at 50.
Parker Thomas scored his final U Sports goal on Sunday.
    Kozun’s outstanding individual season will be a big highlight. In the regular season, the sophomore posted a 20-3 record, a 1.81 goals against average, a .926 save percentage and five shutouts. His win total was a new Huskies individual record for most victories in one regular season.
    The Huskies played with the heart and hustle that has been a trademark for the program.
    Going forward, their supporters have to hope they keep finding ways to play a little better to each situation they encounter and keep limiting the times they shoot themselves in the foot, especially when they play the Golden Bears.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Hounds stay alive, take double OT thriller over Stars

The Hounds celebrate a double OT winner from Lyndsey Janes.
    The belief factor just took a big jump up to another stratosphere for the Notre Dame Hounds.
    Facing elimination from the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League playoffs, the Hounds came through with arguably one of their best performances of the campaign against the defending league champion Saskatoon Stars on Tuesday night.
    At the 14:54 mark of double overtime, Hounds star 17-year-old forward Lyndsey Janes scored a power-play goal from the right side of the Saskatoon net to give her squad a 2-1 road victory at Merlis Belsher Place in Game 3 of a SFMAAAHL semifinal series.
    With the win, the Hounds cut the Stars lead in the best-of-five series to 2-1. Notre Dame will host Game 4 on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Duncan McNeill Arena in Wilcox.
Lyndsey Janes scored the double OT winner for the Hounds on Tuesday.
    If a series deciding Game 5 is needed, it will be held Friday at 8:30 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place.
    The Hounds appeared to be facing a tall task in trying to extend their series with the Stars. Heading into action on Tuesday, Saskatoon had won all seven encounters with Notre Dame in the 2018-19 campaign including action in the regular season, post-season and the championship game of the Mandi Schwartz Memorial Tournament, which the Hounds host.
    The Stars posted their best ever regular season record at 27-1 to top the SFMAAAHL standings. The Hounds finished fifth with a 12-13-3 mark.
Joelle Fiala had the Stars goal on Tuesday.
    The Hounds were also outscored by the Stars 9-1 over Games 1 and 2 of their SFMAAAHL semifinal series.
    Still, the Hounds displayed confidence at the start of Tuesday’s contest. In the first period, they were able to slow the game down with a neutral zone trap and held a 7-5 edge in shots on goal.
    The visitors continued to control play through the first half of the second period before the momentum changed.
    The Stars finally broke through on the scoreboard at the 10:05 mark of the second, when 17-year-old veteran standout forward Joelle Fiala scored from close in. At the time of Fiala’s goal, the Hounds held a 15-8 edge in shots on goal.
    Early in the third, the Stars had two golden chances to extend their edge and seal the game from star forward Anna Leschyshyn and defender Chace Sperling, but Hounds star 17-year-old goaltender Kaitlyn Ross slammed the door shut on both occasions.
Kaitlyn Ross made one of her 40 saves in goal for the Hounds.
    Thanks to Ross’s play in goal, the Hounds were able pull even at 1-1, when Janes set up defender Kas Kingston for a power-play goal at the 9:33 mark of the third.
    Before the third ended, Fiala had a prime chance from the front of the Notre Dame goal to put the Stars back out in front, but she was denied by the glove had of Ross.
    In the first overtime period that was 10 minutes in length, Stars netminder Arden Kliewer made a number of big saves to keep the game going as Notre Dame held a 7-3 edge in shots on goal.
Ross’s biggest save in that first extra frame came early, when she denied a drive from Stars star captain Grace Shirley.
    In the second overtime frame, Ross’s glove hand robbed Stars sophomore forward Makena Kushniruk from netting the winning goal.
Arden Kliewer made 32 saves in goal for the Stars.
    That set the stage for Janes to come through with the winner after 84 minutes and 54 seconds of game action.
    Ross turned away 40 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Hounds. Kliewer made 32 saves to take the setback in goal for the Stars.
    On Tuesday, the Hounds showed they won’t bow out of the SFMAAAHL playoffs quietly.
    On the other side, the Stars have journeyed through the SFMAAAHL campaign with very little adversity until now. Now the Stars players are going to have to show their character in rebounding from Tuesday’s heartbreaking setback.
    All of a sudden, the SFMAAAHL semifinal series between the Stars and Hounds has intrigue, because Saskatoon can’t be penciled automatically into the league championship series.
    The Hounds now truly believe they can win, and you could see it in their eyes, when they departed Merlis Belsher Place on Tuesday night.

Back in the Express with Messier

Ashley Messier is the Stars best defender.
    I was back in the pages of the Saskatoon Express this week with a feature story on Saskatoon Stars offensive defender Ashley Messier.
    Messier joined the Stars as a 14-year-old underage player in 2016-17. Now in her third season, she has been one of the squad’s standouts for some time.
    Now a 16-year-old veteran, Messier set career highs this season with five goals and 27 assists helping the Stars post their best regular season record ever at 27-1.
    Recently, Messier was named the winner of the SFMAAAHL’s Colleen Sostorics Top Defenceman award, and she claimed honours as a first team all-star.
    Messier’s family also has big connections to the game.
    The story on Messier can be found by clicking right here.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Stars a win away from returning to SFMAAAHL final

Grace Shirley had two big playoff games for the Stars.
    It appears the rust factor hasn’t hampered the Saskatoon Stars.
    After going 25 days between games, the Stars jumped out to a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League semifinal series against the Notre Dame Hounds. The Stars, who are the defending SFMAAAHL champions, will be looking to close the series out in Game 3 on Tuesday at 7:45 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place.
    Saskatoon concluded its regular season schedule blanking the Hounds 6-0 in Wilcox, Sask., back on Feb. 17. The Stars topped the regular season standings with a 27-1 record.
    Due to a schedule break to allow SFMAAAHL players to take part in the Canada Winter Games that were held in Red Deer in late February and earlier this month and the fact the Stars had bye into the semifinal round of the post-season, the Stars hit the ice last Friday having gone 25 days without playing a game.
    In Game 1 of their SFMAAAHL semifinal series with the Hounds on Friday, the Stars posted a 6-1 victory at Merlis Belsher Place. The Stars led 1-0 after the first period, 4-0 after the second period and were up 6-0 in the third before the Hounds replied with their single goal.
    Captain Grace Shirley had a goal and three assists for the Stars, while Anna Leschyshyn had a pair of goals. Makena Kushniruk, Joelle Fiala and Kaitlin Jockims had singles for Saskatoon, while offensive defender Ashley Messier had a pair of assists.
    Kaitlyn Gilroy replied for the Hounds, who finished fifth in the SFMAAAHL regular season with a 12-13-3 record.
    Arden Kliewer made 17 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Stars. Kaitlyn Ross turned away 32 shots to take the setback in goal for the Hounds.
    The series shifted to the Duncan McNeill Arena in Wilcox for Game 2 on Sunday, where the Stars pulled out a 3-1 win. Saskatoon led 1-0 after the first period and 3-0 after the second frame before the Hounds answered back with a goal in the third.
Kaitlyn Ross made a number of big saves for the Hounds.
    Alison Olorenshaw, Jockims and Messier netted singles for the Stars. Shirley assisted on all three Saskatoon goals.
    Brynn Maclean had a single for the Hounds.
    Kliewer made 16 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Stars. Ross turned away 24 shots to take the setback in net for the Hounds.
    The Stars SFMAAAHL league award winners and all-star selections were announced, when their series with the Hounds began.
    Kushniruk claimed the Fiona Smith Most Sportsmanlike Player award, and Messier captured the Colleen Sostorics Top Defenceman award, while being named a first team all-star.
    Shirley and Jockims were named first team all-stars at forward.
    Kliewer was named a second team all-star along with Leschyshyn at forward and Chace Sperling on defence.
    If the Hounds are able to win Game 3, they will host Game 4 on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Duncan McNeill Arena.
    If a series deciding Game 5 is required, it will be held this coming Friday at 8:30 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place.

Rebels, Wildcats SFMAAAHL semi even at 1-1

Neena Brick had two strong games for the Rebels against the Wildcats.
    It appears the SFMAAAHL semifinal series between the Regina Rebels and the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats will be a lengthy one.
    The Rebels and Wildcats split the first two games of their best-of-five set. Game 3 is slated for Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Co-operators Centre in Regina.
    In Game 1 of their series on Saturday at the Co-operators Centre, the host Rebels skated to a 3-0 victory.
    Samantha Sichkaruk, Jordan Fry and Neena Brick all scored singles for the Rebels.
    Chantel Weller turned away 11 shots to pick up the shutout win in goal for Regina.
    Amaya Giraudier turned away 32 shots to take the setback in net for the Wildcats.
    Swift Current played without two key veterans in Game 1 as captain Taylor Lind, who is the SFMAAAHL’s MVP, and defender Tobi Fontaine were both nursing minor undisclosed injuries.
Crystal Wale came up big in a Game 2 win for the Wildcats.
    Both Lind and Fontaine were back in action for the Wildcats in Game 2 on Sunday at the Fairview Arena in Swift Current. They weren’t able to pick up any points, but their supporting cast helped deliver the Wildcats to a 3-1 win.
    Ashlee Wolfe and Crystal Wale netted singles to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Brick replied for the Rebels with the lone goal in the second period to cut the Wildcats edge to 2-1.
Ryleigh White scored for the Wildcats on the power play with 3:04 remaining in the third period to cement Swift Current’s victory.
    Giraudier stopped 40 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Wildcats, who were third in the SFMAAAHL’s regular season with a 17-10-1 record. Weller turned away 22 shots to take the setback in goal for the Rebels, who were second in the SFMAAAHL’s regular season with a 17-7-4 mark.
Game 4 of the series between the Rebels and Wildcats is slated for Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. at the Fairview Arena in Swift Current.
    If a series deciding Game 5 is needed, it will be held this coming Friday at 8 p.m. at the Co-operators Centre in Regina.

Stars alums off to NCAA’s Frozen Four

Emily Clark will be playing in her last NCAA Frozen Four.
    A trio of alums from the Saskatoon Stars are headed to the Frozen Four of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s national women’s hockey championship tournament in Division I play.
    Last Saturday, Stars grads Emily Clark and Sophie Shirley, who are both forwards, helped the top seeded University of Wisconsin Badgers blank the Syracuse University Orange 4-0 in a quarter-final contest at the LaBahn Arena in Madison, Wisconsin, before 2,423 spectators.
    Clark, who played for the Stars from 2009 to 2012, had assists on the Badgers first two goals, which were both scored by Annie Pankowski. Shirley, who played for the Stars from 2012 to 2015, was held without a point for the Badgers on Saturday.
    Both Clark and Shirley are members of Canada’s national women’s hockey team program. Clark skates with the senior women’s team, and Shirley is a member of the national development team.
    Clark missed time at the beginning of the season due to an injured left leg. Skating in her fourth and final season with the Badgers, Clark has appeared in 29 overall games recording 14 goals, 11 assists and a plus-21 rating in the plus-minus department.
    Shirley had had an outstanding rookie season with the Badgers appearing in 36 overall games recording 19 goals, 18 assists and a plus-34 rating.
    The Badgers have a 33-4-2 overall record this season and advance to the Frozen Four for a sixth straight year. The Frozen Four runs this coming Friday to Sunday at the People’s United Center in Hamden, Connecticut.
    In one semifinal on Friday, the Badgers face the fourth seeded Clarkson University Golden Knights (30-7-2). The Golden Knights won the NCAA title the last two straight years.
Willow Slobodzian in action with the Stars in 2017.
    The third Stars alum heading to the Frozen Four is Willow Slobodzian, who is a defender for the Cornell University Big Red.
    Slobodzian, who played for the Stars from 2014 to 2017, had an assist for the Big Red as they won a 3-2 overtime thriller against the third seeded Northeastern University Huskies in a quarter-final match at the Matthews Arena in Boston, Mass.
    Gillis Frechette had the OT winner for Cornell.
    Cornell heads to the Frozen Four for the first time since 2012.
    The Big Red improved their overall record to 24-5-6, while the Huskies finish at 27-6-5.
    The Huskies roster contains Prince Albert Northern Bears alum Brooke Hobson, who had an assist for Northeastern University in the setback. Hobson played for the Bears from 2011 to 2017.
    In 35 games with the Big Red this season, Slobodzian had four goals, eight assists and is a plus-22.
    Hobson finished her second season with the Huskies appearing in 38 games recording six goals, 22 assists and a plus-27 rating.
    The Big Red will take on the second seeded University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (31-5-1) in the other NCAA semifinal set for this coming Friday.
    The semifinal winners will meet this coming Sunday in the NCAA championship game.
    For anyone in Saskatchewan that gets the Big Ten Network on their television packages, the Big Red semifinal game this coming Friday featuring Slobodzian will be shown live at 2 p.m. Saskatchewan time. The Badgers semifinal game featuring Clark and Shirley will follow at 5 p.m. Saskatchewan time.
    Sunday’s NCAA championship game will be shown life at 12:30 p.m. Saskatchewan time on the Big Ten Network.

Willoughby to play for CWHL title with Inferno

Kaitlin Willoughby in action with the Huskies in 2018.
    Kaitlin Willoughby will try to close her rookie season as a professional with a Canadian Women’s Hockey League title.
    This coming Sunday, the 23-year-old forward from Prince Albert, Sask., who originally hails from Canwood, Sask., will travel with her Calgary Inferno to Toronto to face Les Canadiennes de Montreal in a one-game league championship final for the Clarkson Cup. The Clarkson Cup will be played at the Coca-Cola Coliseum and will be shown life on Sportsnet at 10 a.m. Saskatchewan time.
    The Inferno topped the CWHL regular season standings with a 23-4-0-1 record. Les Canadiennes finished second with a 21-6-0-1 mark.
    Willoughby has appeared in 27 games with the Inferno collecting one goal and five assists. On March 11, she captained Canada’s women’s hockey team to a silver medal win at the FISU Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.
    Canada fell 2-0 in the gold medal game to the host Russian side. In six games at the tournament, Willoughby had a goal, three assists and was a plus-five.
    Before joining the Inferno, Willoughby was a star for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team from 2013 to 2018 finishing as the squad’s second all-time leading scorer posting 50 goals and 61 assists for 111 points in 132 career regular season games.
    From 2008 to 2013, Willoughby appeared in 96 regular season games with the SFMAAAHL’s Prince Albert Northern Bears piling up 34 goals and 63 assists for 97 points.
    While playing for the Inferno and for Canada at the FISU Winter Universiade, Willoughby is competing her studies in nursing at the U of Saskatchewan.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Raiders please home crowd in rivalry battle with Blades

Noah Gregor (#18) scored twice for the Raiders on Saturday.
    PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – The Prince Albert Raiders gave their frenzied home crowd exactly what they wanted.
    On Saturday, the Raiders closed their WHL regular season schedule with a 3-1 victory over their archrivals the Saskatoon Blades before a sellout crowd of 3,289 spectators at the 2,580 seat Art Hauser Centre. The Raiders, who had been well into their standing room sales for most of the season, announced that Saturday’s gathering was the team’s first sellout of the campaign.
    The crowd cheered the loudest they had all season as the Raiders built a 2-0 lead in the first period, a 3-0 advantage after 40 minutes before the Blades potted a late third period goal.
Raiders fans show they are ready for the post-season.
    “I think for us and for the fans that is a little taste of what is to come in playoffs,” said Raiders captain Brayden Pachal. “That was a playoff atmosphere and a playoff game for sure.
    “That was pretty amazing. You get the chills when you’re coming on to the ice, and they’re that loud. Every hit, every goal, every penalty, everything, it was crazy loud.
    “We’re looking forward to that. It is a hard building to play in, when it is that loud. We’re looking forward to that crowd and even more come playoffs.”
    While the Raiders had extra jump, the Blades played a high-energy game too. 
Dorrin Luding makes one of his 29 saves for the Blades.
    Blades captain Chase Wouters said his team always get pumped to play, when they visit P.A.
    “It was pretty intense and emotional game,” said Wouters, whose club also concluded its regular season schedule. “We knew coming into this building it wasn’t going to be easy.
    “They play us hard, and we play them hard. They got the better outcome tonight.
    “It is an intense building. Every game here, you kind of know what you are going to expect from the crowd, kind of the rivalry and things like that. It is an intense place to play, and it is fun.”
    The Raiders opened the scoring at the 8:05 mark of the first period, when overage centre Sean Montgomery sniped home his 29th goal of the season from the right side of the Saskatoon goal.
Sean Montgomery scored the Raiders first goal on Saturday.
    Just over two minutes later, the Raiders extended their edge to 2-0 working on the power play. Rookie right-winger Ozzy Wiesblatt had the puck at the left side of the Saskatoon goal, and he found overage centre Noah Gregor streaking down into the right slot with a backdoor pass.
    Gregor fired home his 42nd goal of the campaign to give the Raiders a two-goal edge.
    In the second period, the Raiders added a big backbreaking goal with 2:48 remaining in the frame. With the Blades work on the power play, the Raiders broke into the Saskatoon zone on a two-on-one break.
    Gregor roofed home his second of the game and 43rd tally of the season to give the Raiders a 3-0 edge.
    Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid believes his team got an extra step from the atmosphere created by the home crowd.
Raiders fans geared up and cheered out for their team on Saturday.
    “It was fun, and I think it was good for our guys to see the crowd,” said Habscheid. “You look at it, and it is only 3,200 or 3,300, but with the small building and them being right on top of you, it feels like 20,000.
    “It was a good atmosphere. You could tell our guys liked it. It helped give them another jump with everything that went on.”
    Despite being in a 3-0 hole, the Blades didn’t go away. With 3:56 remaining in the third period, Saskatoon offensive-defenceman Dawson Davidson found overage right-winger Max Gerlach in the left slot with a backdoor pass, and Gerlach fired home his 42nd goal of the campaign to cut the Raiders edge to 3-1.
Riley McKay (#39) turns up ice with the puck for the Blades.
    Saskatoon wasn’t able to get any closer.
    Ian Scott made 24 saves to pick up the win in goal for Prince Albert. The Raiders finished first overall in the WHL with a 54-10-2-2 record and were officially presented with the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy for that accomplishment before Saturday’s game.
    Dorrin Luding turned away 29 shots to take the setback in goal for Saskatoon as the Blades saw an eight-game winning streak come to an end. The Blades finished fourth overall in the WHL with a 45-15-8 record.
    There were a lot of penalties on Saturday too. The Blades failed to score on six power-play chances, while the Raiders were 1-for-8 with the man advantage.
Ian Scott makes one of his 24 saves in goal for the Raiders on Saturday.
    Wouters said his team committed too many giveaways on Saturday.
    “It is an area that we knew would be hard in this rink, because they come at us pretty quick,” said Wouters. “Turnovers are definitely a big part of the game.
    “We have to clean up both blue-lines and our own breakouts. We have to be better in that area. We will watch some video this week and get back to work on the weekend.”
    Habscheid believes his players have the right mindset heading into the post-season.
Ryan Hughes breaks into the offensive zone for the Blades.
    “I like where they are at,” said Habscheid. “We needed these two games.
    “It is a good rivalry, good intensity and that is what playoffs are all about. I just appreciated the intensity on both sides. It was good for both teams, not just for us, but for them too.
    Both clubs will now embark on their respective post-season journeys.
    The Blades will face the Moose Jaw Warriors (40-20-6-2) in a best-of-seven first round series. Game 1 is set for Friday at 7 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.
    “It is something we’ve been looking forward to ever since we clinched,” said Wouters. “Now that we found out we play Moose Jaw, we have to tighten up some things against them.
Brett Leason jets into the offensive zone for the Raiders.
    “We look forward to it as a group and as a community of Saskatoon. We will be playing for everyone.”
    The Raiders will take on the Red Deer Rebels (33-28-4-2) in a best-of-seven first round series. Game 1 is set for Friday at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre. The Rebels close their regular season schedule traveling to Cranbrook, B.C. on Sunday to take on the Kootenay Ice.
    Pachal admitted it was big accomplishment for his team to win the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy, but his side wants to capture bigger team awards in the post-season.
    “It is pretty special,” said Pachal. “Obviously, we’ve had a special year so far.
The Raiders salute their fans at the Art Hauser Centre.
    “That was the first banner in this rink for a while. Our mindset is that one isn’t good enough, so we’re looking forward to playoffs.”
    NOTES – Raiders forwards Dante Hannoun and Justin Nachbaur were scratched with undisclosed injuries, but Habscheid was hopeful both could be back for the start of playoffs. Cohner Saleski, who recently completed his second season of midget AAA eligibility with the Prince Albert Mintos, dressed as an associate player call up at centre.
    Blades defenceman Aidan De La Gordendiere was scratched due to an upper body injury, while utility player Randen Schmidt and associate player call up in defenceman Alex Ozar, who just completed his second season of midget AAA eligibility with the Mintos, were healthy scratches.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Blades, Raiders party like it’s 1992 all over again

Blades G Nolan Maier stops Raiders C Sean Montgomery.
    It’s feeling a lot like 1992.
    On Friday, the Saskatoon Blades and Prince Albert Raiders put on a show ensuring a season high 9,188 spectators got their monies worth at the SaskTel Centre. When the dust settled, a power play goal on a two man advantage by Blades overage right-winger Max Gerlach on a net scramble at the 7:17 mark of the third period broke a 2-2 tie and ultimately delivered Saskatoon to a 3-2 victory.
    The Raiders, who will finish first overall in the WHL regular season standings, saw their three game winning streak snapped as they fell to 53-10-2-2.
The Blades celebrate a winning goal from Max Gerlach (#9).
    The Blades, who will finish inside of the top four of the WHL standings, won a season high eighth in a row and their 15th out of their last 16 games to improve to 45-14-8. Saskatoon has posted its best record since going 56-13-1-2 in the 2010-11 campaign.
    You can be sure the fans in attendance supporting both sides were thinking how great it would be to see a playoff series between the two clubs.
    The first round opponents of the Raiders and Blades in the Red Deer Rebels and Moose Jaw Warriors respectively will have something to say first before anticipation can build regarding a Prince Albert versus Saskatoon playoff series.
    The last time the Raiders and Blades met in the post-season when they were this high up in the standings came in the 1994-95 campaign.
The Blades and Raiders scrum it up at the end of the first period.
    That year the Raiders posted a record of 44 wins, 26 losses and two ties to edge out the Blades, who had a mark of 41 wins, 23 losses and eight ties, for third overall in the WHL.
    They collided in the second round of the post-season with the Raiders sweeping a best-of-seven series 4-0. Prince Albert moved on to fall in a league semifinal series in seven games to the Brandon Wheat Kings.
    The most famous playoff encounter came a little earlier in the 1991-92 campaign, when arguably the rivalry between the two sides hit its highest peak.
Max Gerlach had the Blades winning goal on Friday.
    The Raiders finished second overall in the league standings with a record of 50 wins, 20 losses and two ties. The Blades were fourth overall in the WHL with a mark of 38 wins, 29 losses and five ties.
    The two squads collided in a best-of-seven WHL semifinal series, where the Blades prevailed 4-2. Saskatoon moved on to fall in the WHL final to the eventual Memorial Cup champion Kamloops Blazers in seven games.
    With the way the current playoff format is set up, a meeting in the league’s final four round is impossible this season, but the dreams are there for a second round meeting.
    Friday’s contest was a back and forth one.
Parker Kelly had the Raiders first goal on Friday.
    Both sides hit the ice with their regular rosters outside of the Raiders scratching overage forward Dante Hannoun causing Prince Albert to play 18-year-old defenceman Loeden Schaufler up front.
    The Raiders struck first 81 seconds into the contest on a well-executed offensive zone faceoff. Prince Albert centre Spencer Moe won the draw to left-winger Parker Kelly at the top of the faceoff circle, and Kelly wired home his 35th goal of the season.
    Saskatoon evened things up at 1-1 at the 5:44 mark of the first period, when overage defenceman Brandon Schuldhaus fired home a long distance shot.
    To start the second, the Blades had a two-man advantage for 85 seconds due to Raiders penalty trouble at the end of the opening frame.
    Just 37 seconds into the second, Blades right-winger Ryan Hughes converted a backdoor feed from offensive-defenceman Dawson Davidson to give the host side a 2-1 edge.
Ryan Hughes scored his 30th goal of the season on Friday.
    The tally was the 30th goal of the season for Hughes.
    The star goalies on either side made some big saves in the second. Blades netminder Nolan Maier stoned Raiders overage centre Sean Montgomery in close.
    Raiders netminder Ian Scott robbed Blades left-winger “Uncle” Gary Haden with a glove save on a shot from point blank range in front of the Prince Albert net.
    The Raiders evened things up on the power play at the 4:49 mark of the third period, when overage centre Noah Gregor got the puck at the top of the right faceoff circle in the Saskatoon zone and fired home a shot to the top left corner of the Blades goal to force a 2-2 tie.
    That set the stage for Gerlach to score his winner moments later.
    Still, the Raiders had two chances to send the game to overtime inside of the final minute of the third period.
    Raiders rookie right-winger Ozzy Wiesblatt, who turned 17-years-old earlier this month, had an open shot from the left slot of the Saskatoon zone only to be denied by Maier.
Ozzy Wiesblatt drives a shot on goal near the end of the third period.
    A few seconds later, Raiders captain Brayden Pachal had a shot from the left slot, but his drive was blocked by Schuldhaus.
    Maier made 28 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Blades. Ian Scott turned away 29 shots in goal for the Raiders.
    These two teams go at it again on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert.
Could another barnburner be on tap to close the regular season for both clubs?
    It is a golden time to be a WHL hockey fan in northern Saskatchewan like it was in 1992.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Hounds bounce Bears from SFMAAAHL playoffs, advance to face defending champion Stars

Kaitlyn Ross made 21 saves in a series-clinching win for the Hounds.
    The Notre Dame Hounds appear to be hitting their top stride at the right time.
    On Wednesday at the Duncan McNeill Arena in Wilcox, Sask., the host Hounds made good on their second chance to eliminate the Prince Albert Northern Bears from the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League playoffs. The Hounds jumped out to a 4-0 lead and skated to a 5-1 victory in Game 4 of a best-of-five SFMAAAHL first round series.
    The win allowed the Hounds to take the best-of-five set 3-1.
    Notre Dame had a chance to end the series on Monday in Prince Albert, but the Bears staved off elimination with a 3-2 victory.
    In Game 4, the Bears only goal came when forward Jadyn Kushniruk, who was playing in her final season of midget AAA eligibility, scored with less than a minute to play in the second period to cut a 4-0 Notre Dame lead to 4-1.
    Forward Sophie Young scored the Hounds first goal and recorded two assists to lead Notre Dame offensively. Kaitlyn Gilroy, who is an underage 14-year-old rookie forward, scored twice for the Hounds including her squad’s fifth goal at the 3:17 mark of the third period to dampen any hopes of a Bears comeback.
    Claire Nimegeers and Ally Kosteniuk each had a goal and an assist for Notre Dame. Kendra Zuchotzki had two assists for the Hounds.
    Star netminder Kaitlyn Ross made 21 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Hounds.
    Lexi Beuker turned away 13 shots to take the setback in goal for the Bears.
Sophie Young had a goal and two assists for the Hounds.
    The Bears finished the regular season with a 17-9-2, while the Hounds had a 12-13-3 record.
    Prince Albert made it to the SFMAAAHL championship series in three of the last four years winning the league title in 2017 and ultimately advancing to the Esso Cup female midget AAA national championship tournament.
    The Bears and Hounds met a year ago in a best-of-five SFMAAAHL semifinal series, where Prince Albert prevailed in four games.
    The Hounds advance to play the defending SFMAAAHL champion Saskatoon Stars in a best-of-five SFMAAAHL semifinal series. Notre Dame doesn’t get much time to rest as Game 1 is set for Friday at 8:15 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place on the University of Saskatchewan campus in Saskatoon.
    The Stars finished first in the SFMAAAHL with a 27-1 record. Saskatoon won all four regular season encounters with Notre Dame, and all of those contests were played in February.
    The Stars prevailed over the host Hounds 3-1 in the championship game of the Mandi Schwartz Memorial Tournament held last December in Wilcox.
    Game 2 of the SFMAAAHL semifinal series between the Stars and Hounds is set for Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Duncan McNeill Arena in Wilcox. Game 3 is slated for Tuesday at 7:45 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place.
    The Stars haven’t played a game since downing the Hounds 6-0 on Feb. 17 in Wilcox.
    The other SFMAAAHL best-of-five semifinal series sees the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats, who were 17-10-1 in the regular season, taking on the Regina Rebels, who were 17-7-4 in the regular season. Game 1 of that series is set for Saturday at 4:45 p.m. at the Co-operators Centre in Regina.

Huskies end Cinderella run of Gryphons

Evan Fiala scored for the Huskies on Thursday.
    The University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team made the clock strike midnight on the Cinderella run of the University of Guelph Gryphons.
    On Thursday at the Enmax Centre in Lethbridge, Alta., the fifth-seeded Huskies dumped the fourth-seeded Gryphons 6-1 in a quarter-final contest at the David Johnston University Cup U Sports national championship tournament.
    The Huskies entered the University Cup posting a 25-3 record to top the Canada West Conference regular season standings. In the process, the Huskies set new team records for most wins in a regular season at 25 and most standings points in a regular season at 50.
    U of S fell in the deciding third game of the Canada West Championship series 1-0 to the University of Alberta Golden Bears.
    The Gryphons finished fifth in the Ontario University Athletics’ West Division with a 13-11-4 record before going on a tear in the OUA playoffs. They advanced to the OUA championship game falling 4-1 to the Queen’s University Gaels.
    In Thursday’s quarter-final match, the Huskies jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period by goals from Logan McVeigh and Evan Fiala. The goal for Fiala, who is a rookie defenceman, was the first of his U Sports career.
    Carson Stadnyk scored his first of the game on the power play at the 1:46 mark of the second period to give the Huskies a 3-0 lead.  
    Scott Simmonds, who topped the Gryphons in regular season scoring, potted a goal for his side at the 7:53 mark of the second to cut the Huskies lead to 3-1.
    Wyatt Johnson scored on the power play to give the Huskies a 4-1 advantage before the second period ended.
    In the third, Stadnyk netted his second of the game and Levi Cable collected a single to round out the scoring for the Huskies.
Collin Shirley had four assists for the Huskies on Thursday.
    Collin Shirley had four assists for the U of S. Johnson had a pair of helpers to go with his goal for the Huskies.
    Captain and star offensive-defenceman Jesse Forsberg had a pair of assists for the Dogs.
    Taran Kozun turned away 31 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Huskies. Andrew Masters turned away 21 shots to take the setback in goal for Gryphons.
    On Wednesday, Kozun was named the U Sports goaltender of the year and a first team all-Canadian all-star. Forsberg took home honours as a second team all-Canadian all-star in his final season of U Sports eligibility.
    With the win, the Huskies advance to the “frozen four” portion of the U Sports national championship tournament taking on the top-seeded Golden Bears in a semifinal contest on Saturday at 1 p.m. local time at the Enmax Centre. The game will be shown live on Sportsnet 360 at 1 p.m. Saskatchewan time.
    The Golden Bears dumped the host and eighth-seeded University of Lethbridge Pronghorns 7-1 in the late quarter-final game on Thursday.
    On Wednesday, Golden Bears star centre Luke Philp was named the winner of the Senator Joseph A. Sullivan Trophy as the player of the year for U Sports. He was also named a U Sports first team all-Canadian all-star.
    Golden Bears blue-liner Jason Fram took home honours as the defenceman of the year for U Sports and was named a first team all-Canadian all-star. U of A left-winger Grayson Pawlenchuk was named to the U Sports all-rookie team.
    The title game for the University Cup is set for 6 p.m. local time Sunday at the Enmax Centre and will be shown live on Sportsnet 360 at 6 p.m. Saskatchewan time.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.