Saturday, 16 February 2019

Cougars trap Huskies to perfection, force playoff series deciding Game 3

The Cougars celebrate a third period power-play goal.
    The Mount Royal University Cougars women’s hockey team were the excellence of execution when it game to playing the neutral zone trap.
    Facing elimination in a best-of-three Canada West quarter-final playoff series, the Cougars put the clamps down on the University of Saskatchewan Huskies and skated to a 3-0 victory in Game 2 on Saturday night at Merlis Belsher Place. The Cougars win evens the set at 1-1 and a series-deciding Game 3 will be held on Sunday at 7 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place.
    Following Saturday’s U Sports post-season clash, Huskies head coach Steve Kook said his team didn’t have one of their better efforts.
    “I didn’t think we won very many puck races,” said Kook. “I didn’t think we won very many puck battles.
The Cougars battle for the puck at the side of the Huskies net.
    “They played a real good road game, a boring style of road game, but it was effective. Anytime that we generated anything or had anything outside of our zone it was one versus four. It was hard to generate anything out of that.
    “We’ll have to try and figure out a way to get past their four players.”
    The Cougars had their game plan working to perfection right from the outset. Over the opening 10 minutes of the first period, the Huskies held a 2-0 edge in shots on goal, but it felt like the host side was barely in the offensive zone.
Daria O’Neill had a pair of assists for the Cougars.
    Mount Royal had U of S pinned in its own zone for very lengthy stretches.
    At the 13:22 mark of the first, the Cougars broke through on the scoreboard. Third-year right-winger Anna Purschke drove down the right wing on a rush and roofed a shot over the shoulder of Huskies star netminder Jessica Vance into the top right corner of the U of S goal.
    Trotter’s drive was Mount Royal’s first shot on goal of the game, and the Huskies were still sitting at two shots on goal at that point in the contest.
    “That reminded me of our first playoff series last year against UBC in Game 2,” said Huskies captain Brooklyn Haubrich. “They got a goal and it kind of deflated us, and we were able to comeback.
    “I was hoping that would be the case tonight, but unfortunately, that wasn’t. Hopefully, we can rebound tomorrow.”
Cougars RW Anna Purschke battles Huskies RW Abby Shirley for the puck.
    After the Cougars goal, the Huskies were able to get some more shots on net. They held an 8-2 advantage on shots on goal after the first period and a 16-7 edge in shots on goal after the second frame.
    Those shots resulted in very few quality scoring chances against Cougars netminder Zoe DeBeauville.
    At the 3:39 mark of the third, the Cougars jumped ahead 2-0 on a goal by standout rookie right-winger Breanne Trotter.
    Following that tally, the Huskies tried to mount a push back, but the Cougars ensured they remained muddled up in the centre ice zone.
Camryn Amundson jets up ice for the Cougars.
    “We tried to get some offensive zone time, but I think that was probably the one that killed us a little bit in terms of energy,” said Kook about the Cougars second goal. “We’re a good skating club, but it doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot of beans if we don’t go to try and retrieve the puck first.
    “If we get the puck, we have to find some space. If it is through the middle, we have to get going that way. It is not always along the boards. We would just make it too easy on these guys.”
    The Cougars put the capper on the win netting a power-play goal with 1:36 remaining in the third period. Mount Royal left-winger Jayden Thorpe tipped home a point shot from defender Daria O’Neill to round out the 3-0 win for the visitors.
    O’Neill finished with two assists on the night.
    Vance stopped nine shots to take the setback in goal for the Huskies. DeBeauville turned away all 19 shots she face to earn her first career shutout in post-season play for the Cougars.
Huskies D Emma Nutter checks Cougars RW Anna Purschke.
    “Kudos to them, their systems were a lot more disciplined I would say today,” said Haubrich. “They were able to get a good trap on us.
    “Tomorrow, we’re going to have to look through some video and try and find a way that we can penetrate that trap.”
    The winner of Game 3 on Sunday between the Cougars and Huskies will advance to face the University of Alberta Pandas in a best-of-three Canada West semifinal series. The Pandas finished first overall in the Canada West Conference.
    The University of British Columbia Thunderbirds swept the University of Regina Cougars 2-0 in the other best-of-three Canada West quarter-final series with a 5-1 win in Game 2 of that set on Saturday in Vancouver, B.C. 
Bailee Bourassa brings the puck up ice for the Huskies.
    The Thunderbirds advance to play the defending Canada West Conference and U Sports national champion University of Manitoba Bisons in a best-of-three Canada West semifinal series.
    While she would have preferred to see her Huskies down Mount Royal on Saturday, Haubrich is looking forward to the excitement of a series deciding Game 3.
    “You have to love those as a player,” said Haubrich. “Those are fun to play in.
    “With this rink and this atmosphere, I’m really excited. The energy will be great.”
    NOTES – The Huskies claimed Game 1 of their series with Mount Royal 5-0 on Friday at Merlis Belsher Place, but that victory was costly in the injury department.
    U of S lost third-year defensive forward Danielle Nogier in that contest to a broken arm, and she is out for the remainder of the U Sports playoffs. 
The Cougars celebrate their Game 2 win on Saturday.
    Defender Morgan Willoughby had a goal and an assist in Game 1 before suffering a concussion injury. She was out for Game 2 and is highly doubtful for Sunday’s Game 3.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Friday, 15 February 2019

Wytinck’s OT winner caps playoff style desperate effort by Wheat Kings

WHL leading Raiders do some soul searching after setback

The Wheat Kings celebrate Zach Wytinck’s OT winner.
    PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – Zach Wytinck was pumped to give his Brandon Wheat Kings a just result after a big desperate effort.
    On Friday night before a standing room crowd of 2,848 spectators at the 2,580 Art Hauser Centre, the 19-year-old veteran defenceman drove home the overtime winner to deliver his Wheat Kings to a 5-4 victory over the host Prince Albert Raiders in a WHL regular season contest.
    At the 3:08 mark of overtime, Wytinck got the puck at the point from teammate Chad Nychuk, skated to a midrange point in front of the Prince Albert net and drove home the deciding goal.
    “Obviously, it is a pretty crazy ending to the game (with) lots of back and forth action and goals,” said Wytinck. “We wanted to get the extra point obviously.
Zach Wytinck gets set to skate in to score his OT winner.
    “I think we played a really good game leading up to that point. I just got a good pass at the blue-line and kind of walked in. They backed off a little bit, and I tried to put it on net.
    “Luckily, it ricocheted in, and that is a big two points for our team.”
    The win was a second in the row for the Wheat Kings, and they will take all the victories the can get at this point in the campaign. They improved to 25-22-3-4 but still six points behind the Calgary Hitmen (29-21-4-1) and the Red Deer Rebels (29-20-4-1) for the two wildcard and final playoff berths in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.
    The Wheat Kings have a game in hand on the Hitmen.
    Against the Raiders, who still lead the overall WHL standings with a 46-7-1-2 mark, Wytinck believed his side played like they were in a post-season game.
    “I think we had a really good win,” said Wytinck. “Our desperation level was really high, and that is where it needed to be.
    “You look at the standings. We can’t waste time. We have to get wins.
Zach Wytinck reacts to scoring his OT winner.
    “That is really exciting for our group that we’re playing with that desperation level and doing what it takes to win.”
    The setback was a tough one for the Raiders to take as two third period leads slipped through their fingers.
    The two sides entered the final frame locked in a 2-2 tie.
    At the 2:48 mark of the third, import centre Aliaksei Protas potted his 10th goal of the season to give the Raiders a 3-2 advantage.
    Brandon tied things up at 3-3 at the 8:43 mark of the third off an unassisted goal from centre Caiden Daley that seemed to come out of nowhere.
    With 6:35 remaining in the third, Raiders star left-winger Parker Kelly drove home a power-play goal, which was his second tally of the night, to give the Raiders a 4-3 advantage.
Parker Kelly said he needed to play better after the Raiders loss.
    Just 15 seconds later, Brandon tied things up 4-4 on a bit of a strange tally. Wheat Kings left-winger Cole Reinhardt threw a bad angled shot on the Prince Albert net and a slow scramble ensured where the Raiders player seemingly just stood around.
    Wheat Kings star right-winger Luka Burzan got the puck by an open right side of the Prince Albert net and made no mistake burying the equalizer.
    Kelly finished the game with a pair of goals and an assist, but he was a minus-two in the plus-minus department. 
Ben McCartney (#22) celebrates scoring for the Wheat Kings.
    The Camrose, Alta., product was on the ice for four of Brandon’s five goals including Burzan’s equalizer and the overtime winner, and that didn’t sit well with the Raiders standout, who is one of the team’s assistant captains.
   “I thought we were all pretty soft tonight myself included,” said Kelly. “It wasn’t a very great defensive game for us, and ultimately, that is what it comes down to.
    “We have to change some stuff in our D-zone if we want to make a deep playoff run. I thought we were really easy to play against. I have to change myself too.
    “I was really soft tonight. Ultimately, it comes down to leadership doing their job and figuring things out.”
Aliaksei Protas scored a third period goal for the Raiders.
    Sean Montgomery had the Raiders other tally on Friday. Ben McCartney and Reinhardt had singles for the Wheat Kings over the game’s first 40 minutes.
    Boston Bilous made 23 saves to take the overtime setback in goal for the Raiders. Jiri Patera turned away 28 shots to pick up the win in net for the Wheat Kings.
    With the Raiders being rated second in the CHL’s Top 10 rankings, Kelly said opposing team’s aren’t going to give his club any free passes.
    “Every team we’re playing against right now, they’re gunning for us,” said Kelly. “It has been like that all year.
    “Every team we play is also pushing for playoffs. We need to start using this as practice for playoff games, because if we take our foot off the gas pedal, I don’t know if we will be able to get it back on the time playoffs come.”
Luka Burzan scored to allow the Wheat Kings to force overtime.
    Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid gave the Wheat Kings full marks for the win.
    “They have a good team,” said Habscheid. “(Wheat Kings owner) Kelly McCrimmon always has a good team.
    “This is no different. They played hard tonight. They played physical, and I thought we just wanted to play river hockey.
    “There were some of our key guys that weren’t very good tonight.”
    The Raiders and Wheat Kings go at it again on Saturday at Westoba Place in Brandon at 7:30 p.m. local time. Habscheid his team basically has to regroup in the simplest of ways.
   “(We) just have to feel sorry for ourselves today, and tomorrow is a new day,” he said.
    NOTES – The Raiders honoured Habscheid for picking up his 500th WHL career regular season coaching victory as a head coach before Friday’s game. Habscheid accomplished the milestone when the Raiders downed the Hurricanes in Lethbridge 6-5 last Saturday.
Head coach Marc Habscheid and the Raiders look to regroup for Saturday.
    In a pre-game ceremony on Friday, Habscheid was presented with a jacket and a framed display that contained the game puck and scoresheet from his 500th win.
   The Raiders were still without star right-winger Brett Leason and star netminder Ian Scott, who are both listed as day to day with lower body injuries.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Thursday, 14 February 2019

Physical defender Bohlken lights up scoreboard for Huskies

U of S beings playoff journey hosting Mount Royal

Leah Bohlken smiles after scoring a goal this season.
    Leah Bohlken still cherishes the lessons taught to her by a special friend, when she first joined the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team.
    Way back at the start of the 2015-16 season, Bohlken arrived on campus at the U of S as a fresh faced defender from Moose Jaw, who was about to celebrate her 18th birthday near the start of the school year.
    She quickly became friends with a player, who is regarded as the best defender the Huskies women’s team ever had.
    “My first year coming on to the team I played with Julia Flinton, and that was pretty huge for me,” said Bohlken. “Being older and playing, she helped me a lot through that year.
    “She taught me a lot kind of like the more you experience the better you become. I kind of saw that through her. You just have to give it time, and things come in time.”
Leah Bohlken fires a shot through a screen for the Huskies.
    Flinton, who is still the Huskies all-time leader in career regular season points among defenders, was in her fifth and final season, when Bohlken was a rookie.
    To Bohlken’s pleasant surprise, the two were placed together as a defensive pairing. Flinton took Bohlken under her wing.
    Besides learning from Flinton through talks, Bohlken watched Flinton on the ice in order to pick up pointers on how to be better.
    “I remember making one pass to her on one power play,” said Bohlken. “This is one vivid memory that I have.
    “I went D-to-D, and she went down low backdoor to a girl that I had now idea was there. Flinton just saw her plain as day, and they put it in. I was like, “That was the nicest goal I have ever seen.””
    Now in her fourth year with the Huskies, Bohlken has established her own presence as an offensive force for the Huskies. In 27 regular season games, she had a team high nine goals and seven assists for 16 points.
Leah Bohlken tied for the Huskies team lead in points this season.
    She finished in a tie for the lead in team scoring with third-year right-winger Bailee Bourassa, who had five goals and 11 assists in 27 games.
    Bohlken’s goal, assist and point totals are all career highs.
    Her goal total for one season has surpassed Flinton’s best for one campaign.
    “It is new to me for sure, but it has been good,” said Bohlken, who was a plus-three in the plus-minus department. “I’ve been kind of finding the right places this year.
    “It is kind of all coming together. Every year I think you work on something, and then you see it kind of improve throughout the year. This year, it has been points.
    “I can’t take it from one end to the other and go score. It is all the other girls on the ice helping me too.”
Leah Bohlken had nine goals for the Huskies this season.
    Thanks to Bohlken’s efforts, the Huskies finished with a 16-10-1-1 record to finish fourth in the Canada West Conference and have secured home ice advantage for a best-of-three quarter-final playoff series at Merlis Belsher Place.
    The Huskies face the Mount Royal University Cougars, who concluded the regular season on a three-game winning streak and finished fifth in Canada West with a 12-14-2 record. Game 1 of the series is set for Friday at 7 p.m.
    Game 2 is slated for Saturday at 7 p.m., and if necessary, Game 3 is set for Sunday at 7 p.m.
Bohlken’s production has been a sweet sight for Huskies head coach Steve Kook.
    “I’m happy for the breakthrough year that Leah is having,” said Kook. “She’s always lead by example putting in extra time on the ice and the weight room.  
    “In past seasons, she’s always produced quality scoring chances. I’m happy she’s getting rewarded for her hard work. With scoring at a premium in our conference this season, we’re going to need all the scoring we can get.”
Leah Bohlken had career highs in all offensive categories.
    Bohlken is one of those offensive defenders that likes to quarterback the play from the point. A lot of her goals are the result of her rocket shot.
    With that said, she has capitalized on the odd opening to sneak down low from the point to score from the front of the net.
    “Leah has been making great reads off the puck and has been putting herself in good spots on the ice and the puck finds her,” said Kook. “Whether you call it secondary scoring or scoring by committee it’s something that all our players can do in order to help us generate offense in the second half of our season.”
    While Bohlken stands 5-foot-6, she can play gritty and physical too. That was a characteristic of Flinton’s play as well.
    Bohlken said she gained the physical side of her game from her older brother, Brett, who played two full seasons with the Moose Jaw Generals midget AAA team from 2011 to 2013.
Leah Bohlken is best known for playing tough in her own zone.
    “Apparently the day after I got out of the hospital, my mom took me to the rink, and I was in watching my brother play,” said Leah, who has been a U Sports academic all-Canadian in her first three seasons with the Huskies. “I kind of looked up to my brother.
    “He is two years older than me. We’d play mini sticks downstairs, and I’d remember we would play hit hockey. That kind of gave me the playing style that I have today being hard and tough.
    “That kind of got me into it. Then I just stuck with it, and I loved it.”
    Bohlken always received great support from her parents in father, Dean, and mother, Dawn. She remembers her dad taking pride in her physical game, when she played in boys’ leagues.
    “My dad would probably tell a story about me going and rocking one of the guys in one of our little league practices,” said Bohlken. “From right then, I kind of knew whenever I got on the ice that was the sport that I wanted to play.”
Leah Bohlken breaks into the offensive zone around a checker.
    It helped that her family was big into the sport too. Dean played the game as well, and younger sister, Larissa, is a 16-year-old defender with the Regina Rebels female midget AAA team. Larissa stands 5-foot-8.
    “My sister, she is younger than me, but I look up to her,” said Bohlken. “She is taller than me, so I guess I actually look up to her.
    “It is kind of everybody that you play with and meet I think you take a little bit from everybody in how they play.”
    Now as one of the Huskies veterans, Bohlken, who is an assistant captain, tries to take the younger players under her wing like Flinton once did.
Leah Bohlken can quarterback the power play on the back end.
    Bohlken said the veterans want to continue the cycle of helping the younger players along and making them feel they are part of something special.
    “I think that we continue to do that every year,” said Bohlken. “I hope all the players feel like that.
    “This team is a great team to a part of. Everybody kind of helps out each other. You learn things from everybody.”
    The Huskies are in the mix holding the potential to make a long playoff push. This season they would have to it without the services of star captain Kaitlin Willoughby, who graduated after last season.
    Willoughby currently plays in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League with the Calgary Inferno and attended a tryout camp for Canada’s senior national women’s hockey team last September.
    Bohlken said Willoughby’s departure was a huge loss for the team and everyone has to step up to fill the void she left.
Leah Bohlken (#4) believes the Huskies can make another long playoff run.
    The standout defender said belief is high among the Huskies that they can return to U Sports nationals for a second straight year noting Willoughby left a great mark on the returning players.
    “Willoughby, she is a very special player,” said Bohlken. “You know that from watching her.
    “She also left leaving a lot of girls with a lot of help too. She was that fifth year where you come in, and she takes everybody underneath her wing. Everybody kind of got to experience what I did with Flinton that first year.
    “When she (Willoughby) left, she didn’t leave as big of a gap as what one would think, because she was helping players all year long to fill that gap.”

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Blades hot trio burns Tigers

Dawson Davidson had three assists for the Blades.
    Saskatoon Blades hot trio proved to be too much for the Medicine Hat Tigers to handle.
    Offensive defenceman Dawson Davidson, overage right-winger Max Gerlach and veteran left-winger “Uncle” Gary Haden all extended their respective lengthy consecutive game points streaks to help the Blades dump the Tigers 6-3 in a WHL regular season contest before 2,646 spectators at the Canalta Centre in Medicine Hat on Wednesday.
    Davidson picked up three assists and now has points in 14 straight games collecting two goals and 22 assists over that span of time.
    Gerlach fired home two goals and now has points in 12 straight games posting 11 goals and 10 assists in his run.
    Haden had one assist and now has points in his last nine straight games recording 10 goals and eight assists over his streak.
    Gerlach and Haden are former members of the Tigers.
    The Tigers opened the game’s scoring, when captain James Hamblin potted his 31st goal of the season at the 2:44 mark of the first period.
    Before the opening frame ended, Gerlach netted his first of two goals on the night to even things up at 1-1.
    In the second, the Blades jumped ahead 3-1 on goals from right-winger Ryan Hughes and Gerlach potting his second of the night.
Max Gerlach had a pair of goals for the Blades.
    With 4:19 remaining in the second, 17-year-old left-winger Nick McCarry scored for the Tigers to cut the Blades lead to 3-2.
    Any momentum the Tigers built with that tally was erased when Blades centre Eric Florchuk potted his 18th goal of the season with 22.5 seconds to play in the second period to put the visitors up 4-2.
    By the 3:52 mark of the third, the Blades extended their advantage to 6-2 with goals coming from the sticks of Tristen Robins and captain Chase Wouters.
    Those tallies chased starter Mads Sogaard from the Tigers net. The import netminder turned away 22 of 28 shots fired his way.
    Jordan Hollett stopped all five shots he faced playing the rest of the way in relief.
    Tigers left-winger Ryan Jevne rounded out the game’s scoring with 3:38 remaining in the third period.
    Star netminder Nolan Maier made 25 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Blades, who won all four of their head-to-head meetings with the Tigers this season.
Gary Haden had an assist for the Blades.
    The Blades have won their last five straight improving to 35-13-8 and have standings points in their last 11 straight games posting a 9-0-2 mark over that time. They need to earn just eight more points in the standings to lock away a playoff berth without the help of any other results in the league.
    Saskatoon has matched its win total from last season. During the 2017-18 campaign, the Blades posted a 35-33-3-1 mark in missing the WHL playoffs for a fifth straight year.
    The Tigers fell to 31-19-3-2 with the setback.
    Saskatoon was still without star centre Kirby Dach, who is listed as out day to day after taking a puck in the throat last Saturday in a 4-1 victory over the Broncos in Swift Current.
    Blades import right-winger Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen took a double minor for high sticking in the third period of Wednesday’s game, which will be automatically reviewed by the WHL office for a possible suspension.
    The Blades return to action on Friday, when they travel to Cranbrook, B.C., to play the Kootenay Ice at 7 p.m. local time.
    The Tigers hit the ice again also on Friday, when they travel to Calgary to face the Hitmen at 7 p.m. local time.

Raiders buck Broncos for fifth straight win

Parker Kelly netted a pair of goals for the Raiders.
    The line of Parker Kelly, Dante Hannoun and Spencer Moe were making magic for the Prince Albert Raiders on Wednesday night.
    The trio combined for three goals and four assists to power the Raiders to a 3-1 victory in a WHL regular season against the Broncos before 2,273 spectators at the Innovation Credit Union i-Plex in Swift Current.
    Hannoun netted the Raiders first goal at the 2:24 mark of the second period with Moe and import defenceman Sergei Sapego picking up the assists.
    A little over three minutes later, Kelly potted his first of two goals of the night with Hannoun and Raiders captain Brayden Pachal picking up helpers.
    The Broncos cut the gap to 2-1 at the 2:49 mark of the third period, when 17-year-old import right-winger Joona Kiviniemi netted his 14th goal of the campaign.
Spencer Moe had two assists for the Raiders.
    The Raiders, who are rated second in the CHL’s Top 10 rankings, sealed victory with 4:37 remaining in the third period Kelly wired home his second goal of the contest from the front of the Swift Current net off a beauty setup pass from Hannoun behind the Broncos goal. Moe picked up his second assist of the game on the play.
    Boston Bilous turned away 15 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Raiders, who improved their WHL leading record to 46-7-0-2 with five straight wins. Isaac Poulter, who is a 17-year-old rookie, stopped 40 shots to take the setback in goal for the Broncos (10-39-2-2).
    Prince Albert was without the services of star right-winger Brett Leason and star netminder Ian Scott who are both listed as day to day with lower body injuries.
    The Raiders return to action on Friday, when they host the Brandon Wheat Kings at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
    The Broncos hit the ice again on Friday, when they host the Lethbridge Hurricanes at 7 p.m. at the Innovation Credit Union i-Plex.

Stars alums get major win with Boston University


    Saskatoon products Nara Elia and Mackenna Parker got to taste victory in one of the most storied university hockey tournaments in the United States.
    On Tuesday, the two alums of the Saskatoon Stars female midget AAA team helped the Boston University Terriers women’s hockey team claim a 3-2 overtime victory over the Harvard University Crimson in the championship game of the 41st annual Women’s Beanpot tournament at the Bright-Landry Hockey Centre before 1,329 spectators in Cambridge, Mass.
    The win marked the first time the Terriers have won the Beanpot tournament since 1981.
    The Beanpot tournament consists of the four Boston area university teams going against each other for city bragging rights. It features the Terriers, Crimson, the Boston College Eagles and the Northeastern University Huskies.
    Just to show how important the event is, the women’s final received major coverage in the Boston Herald.
    The men’s version of the tournament just wrapped up its 67th edition. Northeastern won the men’s tournament 4-2 over Boston College on Monday at the TD Garden.
    In both women’s and men’s play, the four teams face each other in semifinal contests, where the winners advance to championship games.
    In the women’s final on Tuesday, redshirt junior co-captain Sammy Davis scored the winning goal for the Terriers at the 13:28 mark of sudden death overtime on a power play.
    In regulation, Reagan Rust and Natasza Tarnowski netted singles for the Terriers. Kaitlin Tse and Kristi Della Rovere replied with singles for the Crimson.
    Corinne Schroeder made 30 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Terriers, who are 17-6-7 overall. Lindsay Reed turned away 51 shots taking the setback in goal for the Crimson, who are 10-12-3 overall.
    Boston University is rated seventh in the National Collegiate Athletic Association women’s hockey rankings for division one schools.
    Elia is in her sophomore season with the Terriers and has posted six goals and nine assists in 29 games. She appeared in 58 regular season games with the Stars from 2012 to 2015 piling up 31 goals and 31 assist for 62 points and helped the Stars win their first Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League championship in 2014-15.
    Parker, who was the Stars captain last season, is a freshman and has 10 goals and four assists so far this season playing in all of the Terriers 30 games. She played in 104 regular season games with the Stars from 2014 to 2018 piling up 82 goals and 76 assists for 158 points.
    Parker was a member of all three of the Stars SFMAAAHL championship teams to date coming in the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2017-18 campaigns.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Raiders seen as “the boys” enjoying Habscheid’s 500th win

Marc Habscheid picked up his 500th career  win on Saturday.
    You had to love how the Prince Albert Raiders celebrated Marc Habscheid picking up his 500th head coaching victory in the WHL, because it was just fun.
    On Saturday, the Raiders traveled to Lethbridge to take on the Hurricanes in the third stop on a four game road trip. The two squads entered the third period locked in a 4-4 tie.
    The Hurricanes jumped ahead 5-4 on a goal from star centre Jake Leschyshyn at the 5:57 mark of the third period. The tally was the second of the game for Leschyshyn.
    Just 53 seconds later, Raiders 16-year-old rookie centre Ozzy Wiesblatt tied things up at 5-5 and star left-winger Cole Fonstad netted the winner giving Prince Albert a 6-5 victory with 6:37 remaining in the third period. The winner was Fonstad’s second marker of the contest.
    That will allowed Habscheid, who is the Raiders bench boss, to pick up his 500th career regular season victory as a WHL head coach. The Raiders, who are rated second in the CHL Top 10 rankings, improved their WHL leading record to 45-7-0-2 with their fourth win in a row.
    Following the game, Habscheid was given the top hat the Raiders usually give to their hardest working player and a game puck. An impromptu team picture was taken in the team’s dressing room, which the Raiders have share over various social media channels and their website. 
Ozzy Wiesblatt scored the equalizer for the Raiders.
    After everyone had cleaned up, it was off to a Lethbridge area Dairy Queen for ice cream.
    Habscheid touched base with Gregg Drinnan, who is “The Dean” when it comes to covering the circuit, following the game regarding the celebration.
    “I had a large chocolate sundae,” said Habscheid to Drinnan. “The boys got whatever they wanted. Best $180 I ever spent.”
    For those that were with the Raiders, that had to be one of the most fun nights of the year. The Raiders were slated to play next on Wednesday, when they traveled to Swift Current to face the Broncos (7 p.m. local time, Innovation Credit Union i-Plex).
    With having three off days between games, the Raiders had the chance to soak in and enjoy the accomplishment. That night at Dairy Queen, you can be sure a tonne of good-natured jokes were flying with the down time.
    Over the course of a long hockey season, it is those moments that the Raiders experienced on Saturday night that get remembered many years down the road. Those moments when you are together and having fun during down times are the points where teams can really bond.
    The Dairy Queen visit almost feels like those one impulse fun ideas someone comes up with and then it gets acted on.
    During my 20 seasons covering the WHL, I’ve seen guys on teams impulse going to Subway, jetting off to an electronics store to get a gadget for a bus trip, head out to a movie or venture to a thrift shop to pick up something to use as a Halloween costume.
    All those experiences help teammates bond that much closer together and play harder for each other. Also, the memories that are made are priceless.
    So it was good on the Raiders for making the Dairy Queen stop.
Cole Fonstad had the winning  goal for the Raiders.
    As far as the record breaking game went, Eric Pearce, Parker Kelly and Sean Montgomery had singles for the Raiders.
    Jake Elmer, Ty Prefontaine and Igor Merezhko replied with singles for the Hurricanes.
Boston Bilous made 29 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Raiders. Carl Tetachuk turned away 31 shots to take the setback in goal for the Hurricanes.
    Habscheid became just the eighth coach in the history of the WHL to reach 500 wins. He is closing on becoming just the eighth person to be the head coach for 1,000 regular season games. Habscheid has been behind the bench for 995 games as a head coach including time he spent with the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Chilliwack Bruins and Victoria Royals.
    Don Hay, who is now an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, holds the WHL all-time regular season coaching wins record at 750 in 1,364 games. Ken Hodge, who is a former Portland head coach, holds the all-time regular season games coached record at 1,411.
    On another side note, Fonstad was named the WHL player of the week on Monday after posting five goals, three assists and a plus-six rating in the plus-minus department as the Raiders won the first three games of their current four-game road trip.

Feel good dream season for Raiders’ “Monty”

Sean Montgomery has enjoyed a career year with the Raiders.
    The Prince Albert Raiders are having a dream season and one of cool feel good parts of that story is the fact overage centre Sean Montgomery gets to experience all of it.
    The Calgary, Alta, product has been a full-time member with the Raiders since his 16-year-old season in 2014-15. He is a heart and soul member of the team.
    During his time in Prince Albert, Montgomery has seen a lot of ups and downs with the team. The Raiders missed the playoffs in his first and third seasons.
    They made the post-season in his second campaign and last season. In last year’s playoffs, the Raiders fell to the Moose Jaw Warriors, who had the league’s best record in 2017-18, in a tough first round series 5-4 in a series deciding Game 7.
    Over that whole time, Montgomery, who stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 176 pounds, was the good soldier, who always represented the team well. He wasn’t the highest scorer recording 43 goals and 42 assists for 85 points in 278 regular season games heading into the current campaign. From those numbers, you wondered if he would stay on with the team or would management find a more prolific scoring overager.
    The Raiders stuck with their character guy, who had given lots to the organization. Montgomery, who is an assistant captain, has gone on to have a career year posting 22 goals, 28 assists for 50 points and a plus-39 rating in the plus-minus department appearing in all of the Raiders 54 regular season games. Those career highs have smashed the previous highs he posted in any other season.
Sean Montgomery holds the Raiders team record for career games played.
    The Raiders have had a dream season posting a 45-7-0-2 record and are rated second in the CHL’s Top 10 rankings.
    Montgomery has now appeared in 332 regular season games with the Raiders breaking the old club record of 330 games held by winger Brett Novak, who played for the Raiders from 2000 to 2006. 
    Novak was a member of the last Raiders team that appeared in the WHL Eastern Conference Championship series back in 2005, when they fell in a tough seven game series to the Brandon Wheat Kings.
    That journey through the playoffs is known as “The Run” in P.A.
    Montgomery and the current Raiders have already delivered some amazing memories to “Hockey Town North,” and you can bet they will do their best for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs to try and create more memories.

Blades trio on fire

Dawson Davidson has points in 13 straight games.
    The Saskatoon Blades have a trio that might be too hot to handle at the moment.
    Offensive defenceman Dawson Davidson, right-winger Max Gerlach and left-winger “Uncle” Gary Haden are all riding lengthy scoring streaks, where they are putting up some crazy numbers.
    Davidson has posted points in 13 straight games collecting two goals and 19 assists over that span of time. He leads the Blades in scoring appearing in all of the team’s 55 regular season games posting 10 goals, 51 assists for 61 points and a plus-19 rating in the plus-minus department.
    Gerlach has points in his last 11 straight games posting nine goals and 10 assists over his run. He has 33 goals, 26 assists for 59 points and a plus-one rating for the Blades this season.
    Haden has points in his last eight straight games posting 10 goals and seven assist over that stretch.
Max Gerlach has points in his last 11 straight games.
    He has 26 goals, 30 assists for 56 points and a plus-13 rating in 51 games split between the Medicine Hat Tigers and the Blades.
    That trio has helped the Blades win their last four straight games and collect points in their last 10 straight contests posting an 8-0-2 record over that stretch.
    The Blades return to action on Wednesday, when they travel to Medicine Hat to face the Tigers at 7 p.m. local time at the Canalta Centre, and Davidson, Gerlach and Haden will try and keep their streaks intact.
    Gerlach and Haden are also both former Tigers players and were dealt to the Blades in separate trades. Gerlach joined the Blades in January of 2018 and Haden came to Saskatoon in October of 2018. 

Positive vibes flow in Blades’ “Welcome the World” game

On Sunday, 42 people became Canadian citizens at the Blades game.
    The Saskatoon Blades always have a number of creative promotions for their games, but one of their best ones has to be their annual “Welcome the World” game.
    The Blades held their “Welcome the World” game on Sunday when they downed the Brandon Wheat Kings 6-3 at the SaskTel Centre. The game attracted 4,815 spectators, and a number of those were seeing their first live hockey game ever.
    As part of the “Welcome the World” game festivities, 42 people took their citizenship oath to become Canadian citizens during a pre-game ceremony.
    The concourse at the SaskTel Centre was a fun place as well. If you did a lap of the concourse, you saw dancers and performers representing a number of different cultural groups.
    Overall, the Blades “Welcome the World” game always has a great vibe. It also had a real inclusive feel, something special that makes it unique.
    Here is hoping the newcomers like what they saw, and the Blades will have a few new hockey fans coming out to the SaskTel Centre.

Beware of the Tigers

Ryan Jevne is having a career year with the Tigers.
    It looks the Medicine Hat Tigers have hit high gear to make a second half push.
    After finishing first in the WHL’s Central Division each of the past two seasons, the Tigers appeared set for a reloading phase. For anyone that has seen this team play since the start of the 2002-03 season, their reloads don’t take that long, and before you know it, the Tigers are skating with the best clubs in the league again.
    At the WHL’s Christmas break, the Tigers had a 17-15-1-2 record. Since returning to action after the WHL Christmas break, the Tigers had posted a 14-3-2 record to improve to 31-18-3-2 to sit second in the Central Division one point behind the Edmonton Oil Kings (30-16-4-4).
    The Tigers have made the playoffs in 15 of the last 16 years, and they lost out in a standings tiebreaking game in failing to make the post-season in 2016.
Captain James Hamblin leads the Tigers in scoring.
    They always find speedy and skilled players that fit their transition style game where they get up and down the ice quickly with crisp breakouts and passing. The defenceman are good at protecting their own end and making the first pass up ice allowing the Tigers to explode into action.
    One of their breakout players has been rookie netminder Mads Sogaard, who is an import player for Denmark. The 18-year-old puck stopper, who stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 190 pounds, has posted a 15-4-4 record, a 2.19 goals against average, a .935 save percentage and three shutouts. His save percentage tops the WHL.
    On Monday, Sogaard was named the WHL’s goaltender of the week. In his three appearances in the preceding week, Sogaard posted three wins, a 1.30 goals against average and stopped 96-of-100 shots for a .960 save percentage. On Tuesday, Sogaard took home CHL goaltender of the week honours.
    Captain James Hamblin leads the Tigers in scoring with 30 goals and 34 assists for 64 points and he has a plus-26 rating in the plus-minus department. Overage left-winger Ryan Jevne sits second in team scoring posting career highs in goals (25), assists (28) and points (53).
Mads Sogaard has had a breakout rookie season for the Tigers.
    Overage defenceman Linus Nassen, who is an import from Sweden, has played well both ways in the back end. He leads all Tigers blue-liners in scoring with five goals and 35 assists for 40 points to go along with his plus-11 rating.
    Of course, the WHL’s Central Division has been highly competitive this season, but the Tigers can be their most dangerous, when no one is looking their way. It would not be a surprise to see them continue on their upswing and make noise in the post-season.
    They host the Saskatoon Blades on Wednesday at 7 p.m. local time at the Canalta Centre.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Monday, 11 February 2019

Shirley passes Parker to become Stars all-time top scorer

Grace Shirley became the Stars all-time leading scorer on Sunday.
    It seemed fitting that Grace Shirley became the successor to capture one of the Saskatoon Stars biggest individual records that was held by a friend and former teammate.
    On Sunday, Shirley picked up three assists to become the Stars all-time leader in career regular season points as they downed the Notre Dame Hounds 7-3 in a Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League game at Merlis Belsher Place. With the three helpers, Shirley, who is the Stars captain, has 93 goals and 68 assists for 161 points in 105 carer regular season games. Her goal total is also a Stars career regular season record.
    She passed Mackenna Parker, who was the Stars captain last season, as the team’s leader in career points. Parker recorded 82 goals and 76 assists for 158 points playing 104 career regular season games for the Stars from 2014 to 2018. She is now a freshman with the Boston University Terriers women’s hockey team in the National Collegiate Athletic Association ranks.
    Shirley and Parker are the third and fourth respective all-time leading scorers in the history of the SFMAAAHL.
    Shirley picked up her record breaking point assisting on the Stars first goal, which was scored by 15-year-old sophomore forward Calli Arnold. The captain proceeded to pick up assists on the Stars third and fourth tallies as they built a 4-0 lead after the first period.
Kaitlin Jockims had three points for the Stars on Sunday.
    The Stars built a 6-1 advantage after the second period and cruised to victory from there.
    Kaitlin Jockims and Alison Olorenshaw each had a pair of goals and an assist for the Stars. Anna Leschyshyn had a goal and two assists for Saskatoon, while Arnold had a pair of goals.
    Claire Nimegeers, Brynn Maclean and Lyndsey Janes replied with singles for the Hounds.
    Arden Kliewer turned away 11 of 12 shots starting and picking up the win in goal for the Stars. Kaitlyn Cadrain turned away five-of-seven shots playing the third period in relief.
    Rayanne Mckenzie turned away 16-of-22 shots starting in goal for the Hounds. She was pulled late in the second period after the Stars sixth goal.
    Kaitlyn Ross turned away 19-of-20 shots playing the rest of the way in relief.
    With the win, the Stars improved their record to 25-1 and were already assured of finishing first in the SFMAAAHL before Sunday’s game. The Hounds fell to 11-11-3 to sit fifth in the SFMAAAHL.
Besides Shirley’s record, Stars 17-year-old centre Joelle Fiala hit a milestone in the win. She picked up an assist on the Stars sixth goal.
    With that helper, Fiala equaled former Stars captain Lauren Zary for the Stars record in career regular season assists at 82.
    Fiala has 45 goals and 82 assists for 127 points in 110 career regular season games with the Stars. Zary recorded 44 goals and 82 assists for 126 points in 103 career regular season games played with the Stars from 2008 to 2012.
    Following her career with the Stars, Zary moved on to play with the Brown University Bears women’s hockey team in the NCAA ranks and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team in the U Sports ranks.
Joelle Fiala has equaled the Stars record for career assists.
    Fiala and Zary are the eighth and ninth all-time leading scorers respectively in the history of the SFMAAAHL.
    Leschyshyn is also closing in on both Fiala and Zary for the Stars career assists record. In 113 career regular season games, Leschyshyn has 71 goals and 78 assists for 149 points to sit as the fifth all-time leading scorer in the history of the SFMAAAHL.
    The Stars and Hounds will go at it again twice more. They will face each other this coming Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Duncan McNeill Arena in Wilcox and on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Duncan McNeill Arena.
    Saskatoon concludes its regular season with those two contests.
    Following those games, the Hounds conclude their regular season on Feb. 20 by traveling to Regina to take on the Rebels at 8 p.m. at the Co-operators Centre.

Fontaine, Lind deliver Wildcats double OT comeback win

Tobi Fontaine scored for the Wildcats on Sunday.
    A couple of key players came up big to allow the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats to win an overtime thriller on Sunday.
    Hosting the Melville Prairie Fire at the Innovation Credit Union i-Plex, the Wildcats fell behind 1-0 in the first period thanks to a short-handed goal scored by Prairie Fire sophomore 15-year-old forward Jordyn Bear. The tally was Bear’s 10th goal of the season.
    The Wildcats evened things up at 1-1 with 7:04 remaining in the second period on a goal coming from veteran 17-year-old defender Tobi Fontaine.
    In a three-on-three double overtime period, Wildcats star captain Taylor Lind scored the winner with 72 seconds remaining in the frame.
    Amaya Giraudier stopped 28 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Wildcats. Cheyenne Jamieson turned away 36 shots to take the extra time setback in goal for the Prairie Fire.
    The Wildcats are 9-1 since returning from the Christmas break. Their one loss was a 5-2 setback to the Prairie Fire on Saturday in Swift Current.
    The Wildcats sit fourth in the SFMAAAHL with a 15-10-1 record. The Prairie Fire sit sixth in the SFMAAAHL with a 9-15-2 mark.
    The Wildcats close their regular season hosting the Weyburn Richardson Pioneer Gold Wings in a pair of games at 7:45 p.m. and 12:45 p.m. this coming Saturday and Sunday respectively at the Fairview Arena.
    The Prairie Fire conclude their regular season hosting the Battlefords Sharks in a pair of games at 7 p.m. and 1 p.m. this coming Saturday and Sunday respectively at the Horizon Credit Union Centre.

Five top 10 all-time SFMAAAHL scorers still active

Taylor Lind is the SFMAAAHL’s second all-time leading scorer.
    The Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League has hit a unique moment that might never come again in the history of the circuit.
    As the SFMAAAHL regular season nears an end, five the league’s top 10 all-time leading scorers in regular season play are still active. All five members of that group are slated to graduate from their teams after the current campaign.
    The next time a player will come along to break into the top 10 of the SFMAAAHL’s career points list is uncertain.
    At the moment, Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats star captain Taylor Lind is the second all-time leading scorer in the history of the SFMAAAHL. In 81 career regular season games, she has 88 goals and 76 assists for 164 points.
    Lind does have one year of midget eligibility remaining, but she is slated finish high school a year early and will join the Lindenwood University Lions women’s hockey team next season in St. Charles, Missouri, and play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association ranks.
    Saskatoon Stars captain Grace Shirley sits third in SFMAAAHL career scoring. She has 93 goals and 68 assists for 161 points in 105 career regular season games.
    Anna Leschyshyn, who is another Stars forward, sits fifth on the SFMAAAHL’s career scoring list. She has 71 goals and 78 assists for 149 points in 113 career regular season games.
    Joelle Fiala, who is a star centre with the Stars, sits eighth on the SFMAAAHL’s career scoring list. She has 45 goals and 82 assists for 127 points in 110 career regular season games.
    Prince Albert Northern Bears captain Abby Soyko occupies the 10th spot on the SFMAAAHL’s career scoring list. She has 62 goals and 61 assists for 123 points in 134 career regular season games.
    Olivia Howe is the all-time leading scorer in the history of the SFMAAAHL. Playing for the Notre Dame Hounds from 2008 to 2012, Howe appeared in 106 regular season games piling up 107 goals and 100 assists.
    The Hounds won the Esso Cup as national champions in the 2010-11 campaign with Howe.
    Following her time with the Hounds, Howe played four season with the Clarkson University Golden Knights women’s hockey team and helped them win their first NCAA title in the 2013-14 campaign.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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