Monday, 19 February 2018

Huskies women’s hoopsters aim for more post-season glory

Head coach Lisa Thomaidis, left, and her Huskies continue to impress.
    It has become a special late February to the middle of March tradition in the sports scene of Saskatoon.
    Guided by head coach Lisa Thomaidis, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team is winning games in the post-season, and they will make a serious push for a Canada West Conference title and a U Sports national title. It seems like every generation that plays for the Huskies is hard working, talented and extremely likable.
    Fans can take the current generation of players to heart like group that won the program’s first U Sports national title in the 2015-16 campaign headed by fifth-years Laura Dally, Dalyce Emmerson, Kelsey Trulsrud and Taja Keujer. The same goes for the generations of players that came before the national title win under Thomaidis’s watch.
    Last year, the Huskies were supposed to take a step back due to having a younger squad with the turnover of the fifth-years that powered the team’s first national championship win. After posting a 15-5 record in the regular season in 2016-17, the Huskies won a second straight Canada West title, which wasn’t expected by most observers outside of the program.
    This season, the Huskies 17-3 regular season record was good enough to ensure the team was the seeded second in the Canada West playoffs. The Huskies are also rated seventh in the U Sports Top 10 rankings.
    In a best-of-three Canada West quarter-final series against the University of Winnipeg Wesmen held at U of S’s Physical Activity Complex, the Huskies took Game 1 last Thursday 76-58 but were given a slight scare after the Wesmen took Game 2 a day later 93-85.
Guard Sabine Dukate (#5) can do it all for the Huskies.
    In a series deciding Game 3 last Saturday, the Huskies showed the scare was minimal. They jumped out to a 28-14 lead after the first quarter and stormed to a 52-29 edge by halftime. The Huskies cruised to a 97-64 victory.
    Third-year guard Sabine Dukate, who is the only remaining starter from the national championship team, hit 6-of-11 shots from three-point range to lead the Huskies with 21 points. Star sophomore post Summer Masikewich added 17 points to aid the host side.
    Third-year guard Megan Ahlstrom and fifth-year forward Megan Lindquist chipped in 11 and 10 points respectively. Standout sophomore point guard Libby Epoch dished out eight assists to round out a strong night from the starting five.
    Third-year guard Maya Olynyk came off the bench to pitch in 12 points for the Huskies. Rookie post Kyla Shand and sophomore guard Kelsey Lalor added eight and seven points respectively play reserve roles as well for the host side.
    Teams that go far in the post-season usually get key contributions from everyone at different times, and the Huskies seemed to get contributions from everyone they dressed to prevail by a convincing margin in an elimination game.
    It is believed the win was the 400th overall victory for Thomaidis as head coach of the Huskies in matches against U Sports opponents. The Huskies have won five Canada West titles with Thomaidis as head coach.
    In players like Dukate, Epoch, Masikewich, Lalor, Ahlstrom and Shand, the Huskies have a core that is going to be good for two to three more seasons.
Kelsey Lalor (#12) is one of the many stellar young players on the Huskies.
    While the Huskies core is young, the future is now for this team as well.
    Their next task is to get past the Trinity Western University Spartans in a best-of-three Canada West semifinal series. The Spartans will provide a big test finishing the regular season with a 16-4 record, and they are rated ninth in the U Sports Top 10 rankings.
    Game 1 of that series is set for this coming Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Physical Activity Complex on the U of S campus. The Huskies and Spartans split their two regular season meetings.
    If the Huskies win that series, they will advance to the Canada West title game for a fifth straight year and earn a berth at U Sports nationals for a fifth straight year.
    Odds are high that the Huskies will add to what is becoming a storied playoff legacy.

Playoff opponents set for Huskies hockey teams

The Dinos and Huskies men’s hockey teams will meet in the playoffs.
    The U of Saskatchewan Huskies hockey teams found out who their respective playoff foes will be over the weekend.
    Both Huskies squads earned byes to host best-of-three Canada West semifinal series thanks to respective second place finishes in the conference standings.
    On the men’s side, the Huskies, who were 20-7-1 in the regular season, will take on the U of Calgary Dinos, who had a 12-13-3 regular season record to finish fifth in Canada West. The Dinos forfeited their first six games in October due to using an ineligible player, which they self-disclosed as an error on their part.
    The Huskies took three out of the four head-to-head meetings with the Dinos, and none of those results came via forfeit.
    Game 1 of the series between the Huskies and Dinos is set for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the ancient Rutherford Rink. Game 2 will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Rutherford, and if necessary, Game 3 is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Rutherford.
The T-birds and Huskies women’s hockey team will meet in the playoffs.
    The Huskies women’s hockey team will battle the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in a best-of-three Canada West semifinal series in what should be a heated rivalry type encounter. This will mark the third time in the last five years the Huskies and Thunderbirds have met in the post-season.
    The Huskies posted a 19-7-2 record for 58 points in the standings to sit second in Canada West, while the Thunderbirds recorded a 19-5-4 record for 56 points in the standings to sit third in Canada West.
    In the Canada West women’s hockey standings, teams earn three points for regulation wins, two points for extra time wins and one point for extra time losses. The Huskies earned their 58 points on 18 regulation wins, one extra time win and two extra time losses. The Thunderbirds earned their 56 points on 14 regulation wins, five extra time wins and four extra time setbacks.
    Game 1 between the Huskies and Thunderbirds is set for 1:30 p.m. at the Rutherford Rink. Game 2 is slated for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at Rutherford, and if necessary, Game 3 will be held on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Rutherford.
    The winners of the Canada West semifinals will advance to their respective best-of-three Canada West Conference championship series and earn berths in their respective U Sports national champion tournaments.

Kustra delivers OT win in Edmonton to Blades

Jake Kustra had the overtime winner for the Blades on Monday night.
    Jake Kustra ensured his Saskatoon Blades concluded their four-game road trip on a winning note and with a winning record.
    On Monday night in Edmonton, the 18-year-old defenceman scored at the 1:37 mark of overtime on a beauty setup pass by overage winger Braylon Shmyr to lift the Blades to a 3-2 victory over the host Oil Kings in a WHL regular season match before 9,913 spectators at Rogers Place. The tally was Kustra’s fourth goal and second game-winner of the season.
    Shmyr scored late in the third period and centre Chase Wouters tallied at the 7:20 mark of the third to give the Blades a 2-0 lead.
    The Oil Kings received singles from Kobe Mohr at the 11:58 mark of the third and Trey Fix-Wolansky at the 16:44 mark of the third to force a 2-2 tie and send the contest to overtime. That set the stage for Kustra to come through with his heroics.
    Nolan Maier turned away 13 shots to pick up his 22nd win of the season in goal for the Blades.
    Todd Scott turned away 18-of-20 shots starting in goal for the Oil Kings. He was forced to leave the game after being injured trying to stop Wouters’ goal. Josh Dechaine turned away two-of-three shots in relief for the Oil Kings, who saw their record move to 18-33-6-2.
    The Blades won three out of the four games on their road trip. They improved to 31-27-2-1 to hold the second wildcard spot in the WHL’s Eastern Conference with an eight-point edge over the Prince Albert Raiders (23-25-9-2). The Raiders have two games in hand on the Blades.
    Saskatoon is two points behind the Brandon Wheat Kings (31-23-3-2) for the first wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. The Wheat Kings have two games in hand on the Blades.
    The Blades have 11 games remaining on their regular season schedule, and they will play seven of those games at home. They return to action taking on the Memorial Cup hosting Regina Pats at 7 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre on Friday.
    A fundraising effort is underway to have Blades play-by-play voice Les Lazaruk sing the national anthem before that encounter with the Pats. Funds being raised will be donated to the Saskatchewan Red Cross to support Pink Day, which is set for February 28, and the anti-bullying initiatives backed by that program. Anyone looking to support that cause can do so by clicking here.

    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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Sunday, 18 February 2018

Parker hits 60, equals Clark for Stars season points record

Mackenna Parker, left, is hugged by Jordyn Holmes after tying a record.
    Tying a team record seems to have extra meaning, when it is held by your hero.
    On Sunday, Mackenna Parker to the ice at the Agriplace Arena needing to get one point to tie the Saskatoon Stars team record for most points in one regular season held by Emily Clark. Clark, who is playing with Canada’s women’s hockey team at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, recorded 26 goals and 34 assists for a team record 60 points in 26 games for the Stars in the 2011-12 Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League regular season.
    The Stars were taking on the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats on Sunday in the final regular season tilt for both sides. For the longest time, it appeared Parker wasn’t going to get her 60th point of the campaign.
    With the Stars holding a 3-1 lead late in the third, the Wildcats pulled goalie Amaya Giraudier for an extra attacker.
The Stars were happy after helping Mackenna Parker (#11) get her 60th point.
    Saskatoon defender Ashley Messier and veteran forward Kianna Dietz sprung Parker on a break down the right wing, and the skilled centre fired home her 33rd goal and 60th point of the season into an empty net with 60 seconds to play to put the finishing touches on a 4-1 Stars victory. She also had 27 assists on the campaign.
    After Parker scored, she was mobbed by her linemates in a unique joyous celebration you don’t normally see around an empty-net goal. 
    Everyone on the Stars knew what the significance of Parker’s goal was, and the 17-year-old captain thought of Clark. The two spent time together at various Hockey Canada camps.
Mackenna Parker had no luck offensively for most of Sunday’s game.
    “I’ve looked up to her (Clark) for a long time,” said Parker, who helped Canada win a bronze medal at the under-18 women’s worlds in January in Dmitrov, Russia. “Someday, I want to be in the Olympics like her, but I just have to keep working I guess.”
    Through the first two periods, Parker had a number of chances to score or set up a goal, but the points weren’t coming. During the contest, the Stars had five power-play opportunities and couldn’t find the back of the net on any of those chances.
    On the Stars second power-play chance coming in the first period, the Wildcats went ahead 1-0, when superstar winger Taylor Lind blew home her 28th goal of season past Stars netminder Jordan Ivanco on a two-on-one rush at the 12:46 mark of the frame.
    With 23.7 seconds to play in the first, Stars 16-year-old forward Kaitlin Jockims netted her 10th goal of the campaign to even the score at 1-1.
Taylor Lind gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead in the first period on Sunday.
    Joelle Fiala put the Stars up 2-1 at the 6:51 mark of the second with her 18th goal and 40th point of the season. Anna Leschyshyn netted her 24th goal of the season at the 13:14 mark of the third to extend the Stars edge to 3-1.
    For most of the last three minutes of the third, the Stars coaching staff left Parker on the ice in search of her elusive 60th point, which she got with her empty-net goal.
    Parker needed three points in the Stars last two regular season games - both against the Wildcats - to reach 60 points. She scored twice on Saturday as the Stars downed the Wildcats 5-2 at the Agriplace Arena to lock up first place in the SFMAAAHL. She proceeded to tie Stars record for most points in one regular season on Sunday.
    “It is amazing,” said Parker, who claimed the SFMAAAHL scoring title as well. “The past two games against Swift I realized I was that close. I just wanted to be able to get there.
Anna Leschyshyn gave the Stars a two-goal edge in the third period.
    “It was my team that did that too. Things just kind of like weren’t going my way like for the whole game (on Sunday). I just got that empty netter in the end and that is all that mattered.”
    Stars head coach Greg Slobodzian said he did get worried that Parker might be snakebitten during Sunday’s game. The veteran bench boss was pumped to see the Clavet, Sask., product break through to score the game’s final goal to get to 60 points.
    “She (Parker) works so darn hard,” said Slobodzian. “Every team that we play against focuses in on her defensively, and she is hooked and pulled down.
    “No other player on our team is treated the way she is treated. If I coached against her, I would do the same thing.
Ashley Messier (#8) had an assist on Mackenna Parker’s record-tying goal.
    “She gets frustrated, and she fights and fights and fights. To see her get rewarded like that, it just was a real special feeling not just for herself. Everyone was cheering her on, and everyone was extremely excited for her.”
    Ivanco made 18 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Stars, who improved to 24-3-1. Giraudier turned away 27-of-30 shots to take the setback in goal for the Wildcats, who fell to 13-11-4.
    Due to finishing first in the SFMAAAHL, the Stars earned a bye into the second round of the league playoffs, so they will wait to see who they will face in a best-of-five SFMAAAHL semifinal series. Parker, who appeared in 23 regular season games in 2017-18, is one of six players on the Stars who will exhaust their midget AAA eligibility at the end of playoffs along with Dietz, Ivanco, Dana Wood, Jordyn Gerlitz and Jordyn Holmes.
Stars captain Mackenna Parker kept receiving hugs post-game on Sunday.
    The captain wants to lead her team back into the Esso Cup national championship tournament, which runs April 22 to 28 in Bridgewater, N.S. The Stars won SFMAAAHL titles in 2015 and 2016 and appeared in the Esso Cup in both those years winning a bronze medal in the first visit to nationals.
    “I just want to lay everything on the line this time,” said Parker, who is in her fourth season with the Stars. “I want to get the team as far as we can go.
    “This time, I want to win the league and be able to go to Esso. That is my goal.”

    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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Saturday, 17 February 2018

Stars vs. Wildcats features four SFMAAAHL all-time top scorers

Stars captain Mackenna Parker leads the SFMAAAHL in scoring.
    If you want to see some of the best that have graced any ice surface in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League, you might want to stop at the Agriplace Arena this weekend.
    When the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats take on the host Saskatoon Stars at 7:45 p.m. Saturday and 2:15 p.m. Sunday, those clashes will feature four of the top 14 all-time leading scorers in the history of the SFMAAAHL. They include Mackenna Parker, Grace Shirley and Anna Leschyshyn of the Stars and Taylor Lind of the Wildcats who have all scored over 100 points in their SFMAAAHL regular season careers.
    It isn’t very often an SFMAAAHL regular season or playoff game will feature four of the circuit’s players that have scored 100-or-more points in their careers when they are all active at the same time. All four will likely see a lot of bright days playing hockey long after their midget AAA careers conclude.
    Parker is the 17-year-old captain of the Stars and is the second all-time leading scorer in the SFMAAAHL in regular season play piling up 79 goals and 76 assists for 155 points in 102 games. The skilled centre is trying to become the second player in the history of the SFMAAAHL to net 80 career regular season goals.
Grace Shirley is the SFMAAAHL’s 10th all-time leading scorer.
    Having helped Canada win bronze at the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Under-18 Women’s World Championship that wrapped up Jan. 13 in Dmitrov, Russia, Parker leads the SFMAAAHL in scoring this season netting 30 goals and 27 assists for 57 points in 21 appearances with the Stars.
    The Clavet, Sask., product has a chance to break the Stars record for most points in one regular season currently held by Emily Clark, who posted 26 goals and 34 assists in 26 regular season games for the Stars in the 2011-12 campaign. Clark is playing for Canada’s women’s hockey team at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
    Shirley is the 10th all-time leading scorer in the history of the SFMAAAHL in regular season play recording 69 goals and 47 assists for 116 points in 80 games. She is trying to become the fourth player in the history of the SFMAAAHL to record 70 career regular season goals.
    The 16-year-old centre was a teammate with Parker on the Canadian squad that won bronze at the under-18 women’s worlds in January. Shirley sits fourth in SFMAAAHL scoring this season netting 29 goals and 17 assists for 46 points in 21 appearances. She is trying to become the second Stars player to score 30 or more goals in one regular season after Parker in the current campaign.
Anna Leschyshyn sits second in the SFMAAAHL scoring race.
    Leschyshyn is the 12th all-time leading scorer in the history of the SFMAAAHL in regular season play posting 52 goals and 59 assists for 111 points in 85 games. The 16-year-old winger sits second in SFMAAAHL scoring this season with 22 goals and 29 assists for 51 points appearing in all of the Stars 26 games.
    She became the third player in the history of the Stars to record 50-or-more points in one season regular season along with Clark and Parker.
    In just two seasons, Lind has become the 14th all-time leading scorer in the history of the SFMAAAHL in regular season play posting 62 goals and 45 assists for 107 points in 53 games. The skilled forward is already the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Wildcats.
    The Shaunavon, Sask., product, who turned 16-years-old in early January, sits third in SFMAAAHL scoring this season with 26 goals and 23 assists in 25 appearances. Lind topped the SFMAAAHL in scoring last season netting 36 goals and 22 assists appearing in all 28 of the Wildcats regular season games.
Taylor Lind, seen here last season, is the Wildcats all-time leading scorer.
    The two head-to-head encounters between the Stars and Wildcats will be the final regular season contests for both clubs in the 2017-18 campaign. The Stars, who have a 22-3-1 record, need to earn three more points in the standings to lock up first place in the SFMAAAHL and earn a bye into the second round of the league playoffs.
    In the SFMAAAHL, three points are awarded in the standings for regulation wins, two points for extra time wins and one point for extra time setbacks.
    The Stars have 64 points in the standings coming on 19 regulation wins, three extra time wins and one extra time setback.
    The Prince Albert Northern Bears, who have a 20-5-1 record, sit second in the SFMAAAHL with 60 points in the standings coming off 19 regulation wins, one extra time win and one extra time setback. The Bears have two games remaining on their regular season schedule.
    The Wildcats, who have a 13-9-4 record, are cemented into a fifth place finish in the SFMAAAHL.

Blades comeback attempt falls short against Hurricanes

Captain Evan Fiala scored for the Blades on Friday night.
    A horrible start ultimately did in the Saskatoon Blades on Friday night in Lethbridge.
    The Blades fell behind the host Hurricanes 4-0 and came up on the short end of a 5-4 final favouring the host side before 4,918 spectators at the Enmax Centre.
    The Hurricanes opened the scoring 18 seconds into the contest on the 39th tally of the season coming off the stick of captain Jordy Bellerive. Lethbridge’s edge expanded to 4-0 at the 5:02 mark of the opening frame with Dylan Cozens, Matthew Stanley and Calen Addison each scoring once for the host side.
    The surge chased Tyler Brown from the Blades goal after stopping 4-of-8 shots sent his way in his sixth start with the team. Nolan Maier turned away 9-of-10 shots playing the rest of the way in relief.
    The Blades cut the Hurricanes lead to 4-2 before the first period ended with singles coming from the sticks of Logan Christensen and captain Evan Fiala.
    After a scoreless second period, Blades winger Eric Florchuk scored 47 seconds into the third to further trim the Hurricanes edge to 4-3.
    Stanley added his second of the contest and his second goal of his WHL career at the 5:37 mark of the third to put the Hurricanes up 5-3.
    Blades star overage winger Braylon Shmyr potted Saskatoon’s final goal inside of the final 10 seconds of the third.
    Overage netminder Logan Flodell turned away 35 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Hurricanes, who improved to 27-24-6 to sit second in the WHL’s Central Division.
    The Blades fell to 29-27-2-1 to sit in the second wildcard position in the WHL’s Eastern Conference with a four point edge over the Prince Albert Raiders (23-23-9-2). The Raiders have two games in hand on the Blades.
    The Brandon Wheat Kings (30-22-3-2) have fallen into the first wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference with a four point lead over Saskatoon. The Wheat Kings have two games in hand on the Blades.
    The Blades return to action on Sunday, when they travel to Calgary to take on the Hitmen (17-32-5-2).

    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, 16 February 2018

Huskies’ Vance should be Canada West MVP

Goalie Jessica Vance, left, gives a fist bump with Kennedy Harris.
    In the season of the shutout, Jessica Vance has reigned supreme.
    As a result, the sophomore goalie from the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team should be the most valuable player in the Canada West Conference.
    Vance, who stands 5-foot-7, had an impressive first campaign with the Huskies posting a 14-3-1 record, a 0.77 goals against average, a .964 save percentage and nine shutouts. She topped the conference in most wins, the best save percentage and most shutouts.
    Her shutout total equals former University of Alberta Pandas netminder Stacey McCullough for the second most shutouts ever recorded in the Canada West Conference in one U Sports regular season. McCullough posted nine shutouts in the 2000-01 campaign.
    Lindsey Post, who is another former Pandas netminder, holds the Canada West record for most shutouts in one U Sports regular season at 10 recorded in the 2014-15 campaign.
Jessica Vance topped Canada West in wins, save percentage and shutouts.
    Thanks to Vance’s efforts, the Huskies posted 12 total shutouts as a team in the campaign to equal a Canada West Conference team record for one season. The Pandas also posted 12 shutouts coming in the 2008-09 campaign.
    The 20-year-old Prince Albert, Sask., product played a key part in helping the Huskies finish second overall in Canada West with a 19-7-2 record. The 19 wins marked a new Huskies team record for most victories in one regular season. That finish allows the Huskies to host a best-of-three Canada West semifinal series that is slated to start with Game 1 on February 23 at 1:30 p.m. at the ancient Rutherford Rink.
    Vance helped the Huskies get to a place in the standings they haven’t been since they last finished second in Canada West back in the 2013-14 campaign with an 18-4-6 record. The Huskies also won the Canada West title in that campaign and a bronze medal at the U Sports national championship tournament.
    Since the 2013-14 season, the Huskies have still been good finishing fifth in 2014-15 and fourth in both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 campaigns. They were in search of that extra edge to push them back into one of the top two spots in the standings, and Vance gave them that edge. That fact should play a major part in naming her the most valuable player in the conference.
Jessica Vance played with a great calm in goal for the Huskies.
    Vance posted a 6-3-1 mark and two shutouts in the combined starts she made against the University of Manitoba Bisons, the defending U Sports champion Pandas and the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. In the latest U Sports Top 10 rankings, the Bisons are rated first, the Pandas second and the Thunderbirds are fifth.
    The Huskies didn’t crack the U Sports Top 10 even with their second place finish in Canada West and the wins they put up against the Bisons, Pandas and Thunderbirds. If the Huskies aren’t worthy of being rated in the U Sports Top 10 rankings with their Canada West foes, then Vance should be given that much more credit for the record the Huskies had and add to the reasons she should be the Canada West MVP.
    In 2017-18, 54 of the 112 regular season games played in the Canada West Conference for women’s hockey ended in shutouts, which meant the pressure was on the goalies to not even give up a single goal on most nights. Through the whole season, Vance never got rattled by that type of pressure. She had a calm about her in net that few goalies female or male have.
    On top of all of that, Vance went over two-and-a-half years between competitive starts.
Jessica Vance’s play was key in a second place finish for the Huskies.
    Way back on March 25, 2015, Vance played her final game with the Prince Albert Northern Bears making 20 saves in a 2-0 loss to the Saskatoon Stars in Game 3 of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League championship series at the Agriplace Arena. The Stars swept the best-of-five series 3-0.
    With her midget AAA career having reached a conclusion, Vance originally planned to join the University of Manitoba Bisons women’s hockey team, but she sat out the 2015-16 season as a medical redshirt after suffering a major leg injury playing competitive softball in the summer of 2015.
    Vance dressed for one game as a backup goalie early last season for the Bisons before electing to play closer to home choosing to transfer to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s team. Due to dressing for that one game, she wasn’t eligible to play for the Huskies until Nov. 1, 2017.
    Normally, that type of absence would cause a major setback for most high-level athletes.
    Vance never lost her game, and she was the main factor in helping the Huskies reach a higher level in the standings.
    Her story seems unbelievable, and that is what makes it special. The case for her being the Canada West MVP is a clear one, and that honour should come her way.

Willoughby proves she’s P.A. tough

Huskies captain Kaitlin Willoughby, right, has played through a few battles.
    Kaitlin Willoughby’s biggest accomplishment of the 2017-18 U Sports regular season might be the fact she skated through it in one piece.
    The star captain of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team has always drawn extra attention from the opposition due to her ability to score. It seemed the attention she received on the ice in her fifth and final season of eligibility was greater than in any of her first four campaigns.
    While bodychecking is illegal in women’s hockey, it was apparent players on opposing teams were out to deliver a few physical blows Willoughby’s way. 
    The most obvious case came in the Huskies 2-1 victory after a tiebreaking shootout over the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds on Jan. 27 at the Rutherford Rink, when Willoughby was on the receiving end of a hip check from Thunderbirds centre Mathea Fischer. There was no call on the play.
    Throughout the season, Willoughby’s presence on the ice resulted in opponents cross-checking her, slashing her after the play was blown dead and a few failed attempts to level her with a hit worthy of former star NHL defenceman Scott Stevens. It is almost a certainty a few opponents landed the odd punch on Willoughby in scrums, which do happen in the women’s game.
    Despite all the attempts to target her, beat her down and knock her off her game, Willoughby, who stands 5-foot-6, still finished fifth in the Canada West scoring race with nine goals and 10 assists in 26 regular season appearances.
Kaitlin Willoughby faces a lot of attention from opposing teams.
    The treatment the 22-year-old Prince Albert product has received on the ice isn’t foreign to what star players receive at any level of hockey.
    In the WHL, Nolan Patrick encounter similar treatment from opponents leading the Brandon Wheat Kings to a league championship in the 2015-16 campaign. In the 2016 WHL playoffs, he played through lots of extra shots and successfully remained at the top of his game.
    Adam Brooks and Sam Steel played through a lot of abuse powering the Regina Pats to an appearance in the WHL championship series last year. Mathew Barzal endured is share of unwanted physical shots helped the Seattle Thunderbirds win the WHL title last season.
    In U Sports men’s hockey, Derek Hulak had to play through lots of unwanted physical attention earning the Canada West most valuable player award in his final campaign with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s team in 2013-14.
    At times, it seemed like the abuse all these players received was a borderline attempt to injure.
Willoughby showed her physical toughness this season and her mental toughness. In her first couple of seasons with the Huskies, the odds of her getting knocked off her game and seeing her get involved in trash talking sessions with opposing players was higher, if she received some unwanted hacks.
    She never lost her composure no matter what happened to her this season. In that, Willoughby accomplished a pre-season goal to emulate her former Huskies captain from her rookie season in Cami Wooster.
    In the process of playing though taking unnecessary physical shots, Willoughby upped the level of her teammates. They could see what was happening, and when something underhanded happened on the ice, you could see their focus becoming that much sharper.
Kaitlin Willoughby, centre, is surrounded by teammates who have her back.
    Willoughby’s teammates were right behind her, and they were ready to respond in the physical department. That was another obvious sight in the little battles you could see all over the ice.
    It felt like opponents would be wiser if they tried to avoid doing something that got the collective attention of the Huskies. The Huskies always seemed to win, when that happened.
    The Huskies begin their playoff march hosting Game 1 of a best-of-three Canada West semifinal series on February 23 at 1:30 p.m. at the Rutherford Rink.
    One last playoff run now awaits Willoughby, and she has a group of battle-hardened teammates right behind her that have her back. That gives the Huskies a huge chance to reach some very lofty heights.

    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, 14 February 2018

Blades’ Dach melts Ice with three-point night

Kirby Dach had a goal and two assists for the Blades on Wednesday night.
    For a short time, it appeared Kirby Dach was going spoil his own big night.
    On Wednesday in Cranbrook, B.C., Dach’s Saskatoon Blades held a 2-1 third period lead over the host Kootenay Ice. With his team working on the power play, the rookie centre accidentally turned the puck over to Ice winger Cameron Hausinger.
    Hausinger sprung linemate Brett Davis on a breakaway, and he capitalized with his 21st goal of the campaign to tie things up at 2-2 with 6:27 to play in the frame.
    Dach ensured Davis’s short-handed goal wouldn’t be a turning point in the contest. With 2:48 to play in the third, Dach entered the Kootenay zone on a two-on-one break.
    He fed a setup pass over to right-winger Michael Farren, who popped home the deciding tally in the Blades 3-2 victory before 2,022 spectators at Western Financial Place.
    Dach returned to the Saskatoon lineup having missed one game after being banged up from receiving a hit from behind by Prince Albert Raiders winger Parker Kelly during a Blades 6-3 victory at the SaskTel Centre on Saturday.
    Against the Ice on Wednesday, the Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., product had one of his better nights outside of the third period turnover playing a part in manufacturing all three of the Blades goals.
    At the 9:25 mark of the first, Dach, who turned 17 in January, wired home a shot to the top right corner of the Kootenay goal to give the Blades a 1-0 lead.
    The Blades increased their edge to 2-0 on the Ice at the 4:16 mark of the second, when defenceman Dawson Davidson beat Kootenay netminder Matt Berlin with a low shot on the power play. Dach picked up an assist on that tally.
Michael Farren scored the winning goal for the Blades on Wednesday night.
    Before the second ended, the Ice cut the Blades edge to 2-1, when overage right-winger Colton Veloso one-timed home his 20th goal of the season with Kootenay working on the power play. Veloso hit the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his WHL career having spent the past two full seasons with the Portland Winterhawks.
    That set the stage for the dramatics inside of the final seven minutes of the third period.
    Rookie Nolan Maier, who turned 17 in January, turned away 25 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Blades. Berlin stopped 24 shots to take the setback in goal for the Ice, who fell to 24-31-3.
Before Wednesday’s game, the Blades had lost their five previous road games, with their last road win being a 3-2 overtime victory over the Rebels in Red Deer on Jan. 13. Saskatoon now has a 12-14-2-1 record on the road this season.
    Overall, the Blades have won three straight to improve to 29-26-2-1 to hold a six-point edge over the Prince Albert Raiders (22-23-9-2) for the second wildcard spot in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. The Raiders have two games in hand on the Blades.
    Saskatoon trails the Memorial Cup hosting Regina Pats (29-24-5-1) by three points for the Eastern Conference’s first wildcard spot and the Brandon Wheat Kings (30-21-3-2) by four points for third in the East Division. The Blades have a game in hand on the Pats. The Wheat Kings have two games in hand on the Blades.
    The Blades return to action on Friday, when they travel to Lethbridge to take on the Hurricanes (26-24-6).

Back in the Express with Vance

Jessica Vance had a spectacular regular season for the Huskies.
    I was back in the pages of the Saskatoon Express this week with a feature story on netminder Jessica Vance of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team.
    The 20-year-old Prince Albert, Sask., product had an outstanding season playing goal for the Huskies. Vance had nine shutouts during the regular season which ties former University of Pandas netminder Stacey McCullough for the second most shutouts ever recorded in the Canada West Conference in one U Sports regular season. McCullough posted nine shutouts in the 2000-01 campaign.
    Lindsey Post, who is another former Pandas netminder, holds the Canada West record for most shutouts in one U Sports regular season at 10 recorded in the 2014-15 campaign.
    In 2017-18, 54 of the 112 regular season games played in the Canada West Conference for women’s hockey ended in shutouts, and the Huskies posted 12 total shutouts as a team in the campaign to equal a Canada West Conference team record for one season. The Pandas also posted 12 shutouts coming in the 2008-09 campaign.
    Besides leading the Canada West Conference in shutouts, Vance posted a 14-3-1 record, a 0.77 goals against average and a .964 save percentage. Vance topped the Canada West Conference with the most wins and the best save percentage.
    Thanks to Vance, the Huskies finished second in Canada West with a 19-7-2 record. The win total was a regular season team record for the Huskies. Before the current campaign, U of S last finished second in Canada West in the 2013-14 campaign posting an 18-4-6 mark.
    The Huskies will host a best-of-three Canada West semifinal series from Feb. 23 to 25 at the ancient Rutherford Rink. Games 1 and 2 are set for a 1:30 p.m. start on Feb. 23 and 24 respectively.
    The story on Vance can be found 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.
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Sunday, 11 February 2018

Blades’ Maier robs Pats

Blades G Nolan Maier, right, stops Pats C Matthew Bradley.
    Nolan Maier made enough saves to fill sports highlight reels for a week.
    On Sunday at the Credit Union Centre, the rookie netminder, who turned 17-year-olds in early January, stole the show helping the Saskatoon Blades post a 2-1 WHL regular season victory over the Regina Pats after a tiebreaking shootout before 3,647 spectators. Maier turned away 38 shots through regulation and overtime, and it seem most of the chances against him were high quality ones.
    The Yorkton, Sask., product stopped five of the seven shooters in the tiebreaking shootout, which the Blades claimed 3-2 after seven rounds.
Nolan Maier deflects a shot away from the Blades net.
    In what has been a sensational rookie campaign, Maier said he didn’t know where Sunday’s performance would rank with the other games he has played. He admitted he does get a little extra motivation when he hears how much his team’s fans get up for games against the Pats.
    “All I know is that I really love playing Regina just the intensity that it brings and the crowds that it gets,” said Maier. “It is just really good for our organization, when we come out on top against them.
    “Whenever we play a better team, I obviously want to get in there and show what I can do.”
    Maier didn’t have any problem showing what he could do in Sunday’s win. After centre Logan Christensen scored on a power play in the first period to give the Blades a 1-0 lead, momentum seemed to be firmly entrenched on the side of the Pats through the second, third and overtime periods.
Nolan Maier makes a glove stop for the Blades.
    In the second period, Maier denied Pats 16-year-old centre Logan Nijhoff in close, turned away superstar centre Sam Steel a short-handed chance and made a pad stop on Pats star centre Jake Leschyshyn on a short-handed breakaway.
    The Pats finally broke through on the scoreboard at the 3:25 mark of the third, when centre Matthew Bradley wired a point shot through a screen to the top left corner of the Blades goal to force a 1-1 tie. Bradley’s tally wasn’t able to spark an offensive surge for the visitors.
    Despite how the game was playing out on the ice with the Pats controlling play after the first period, Blades right-winger Michael Farren said his side never got discouraged.
Blades G Nolan Maier, left, keeps Pats RW Bryce Platt at bay.
    “All our guys kept focused,” said Farren. “We took some unlucky bounces in the second and third.
    “We got the win. We squeezed it out. That is what we do. We have to keep going.
    “We always have a positive mindset on the bench.”
    A short time later, Maier made a big glove stop on Pats overage right-winger Cameron Hebig to resume the work of miraculous stops.
    The netminder’s best work came in overtime after Pats 17-year-old rookie netminder Max Paddock turned away Blades defenceman Dawson Davidson on a breakaway early in the frame.
    Following the stop on Davidson, the Pats quickly transitioned up ice resulting in a breakaway by Steel, but last season’s WHL MVP was denied by Maier’s glove hand.
Logan Christensen, left, celebrates scoring for the Blades.
    Maier proceeded to turn away Hebig twice. One was a kick stop when Hebig tried to cut across alone in front of the Blades goals to score, and the second rejection came when Maier lunged across the crease for a kick save to rob Hebig on a backdoor chance.
    Shortly before overtime ended, Maier turned away Steel again with a right shoulder stop.
    “I think it was a little different,” said Maier of the overtime period. “Other games that I have been in OT I feel like I haven’t had as many shots as I did this time.
    “I just try to approach it the same. I just really strive for these kind of games. I really have fun in it.”
    In the tiebreaking shootout, Braylon Shmyr and Chase Wouters scored for the Blades, while Hebig and Jesse Gabrielle replied for the Pats through the first six rounds.
    Right-winger Michael Farren scored the winner for the Blades roofing home a shot to the top right corner of the Pats goal that dislodged the water bottle on top of the net.
Pats captain Sam Steel was held pointless on Sunday.
    Defenceman Josh Mahara was forced to shoot wide by Maier on the Pats shooting opportunity in the seventh round to deliver the overall win to the Blades in the contest.
    Blades head coach Dean Brockman said he was impressed with how Maier always seems to play at an elite level. The bench boss said he remembered Maier’s first regular season start back on Oct. 7, 2017, when the Blades were shelled 7-3 in Regina by the Pats. Maier made 34 saves that night but wasn’t disheartened by how the contest played out.
    “He (Maier) gives us a chance to win every night,” said Brockman, whose team has won five of seven head-to-head meetings with the Pats. “He is a really special kid.
Michael Farren scores the shootout winner for the Blades.
    “He is dialed in, and he has kind of got their number a little bit. Ever since the first game he played there and he didn’t do so well, I just remember talking with him. He didn’t lose any of his confidence, and I’m just really proud of him with the way he played.”
    Paddock turned away 28 shots fired his way through 65 minutes and four of seven shooters in the tiebreaking shootout playing goal for the Pats. Regina was without regular starting netminder Ryan Kubic due to illness. Jacob Wasserman, who plays junior A in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League for the Humboldt Broncos, dressed as the Pats backup goalie.
Blades mascot Poke Check, right, salutes goalie Nolan Maier.
    The Blades improved to 28-26-2-1 with the win to hold the second wildcard berth in the WHL’s Eastern Conference with a four point lead on the Prince Albert Raiders (22-23-9-2). The Raiders have a game in hand on the Blades.
    The Pats record moved to 29-23-5-1 and they hold the first wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference with a five point lead on Saskatoon. The Blades have a game in hand on the Pats.
    The Blades now head out on a four-game road trip, which starts Wednesday in Cranbrook, B.C., against the Kootenay Ice.
    Brockman said he wants his team to hit another gear to push to collect wins on the road. He said he wants his team to score more goals, be better on the power play and clean up a lot of other little areas.
    “The whole thing is you strive for perfection,” said Brockman. “Until you get there, you are still always going to work on things.”

Greschner’s team goals record broken in Stars victory

Mackenna Parker had a hat trick on Sunday for the Stars.
    Sara Greschner’s Saskatoon Stars team record for most goals scored in one regular season was broken twice on Sunday.
    Back in 2010-11, Greschner scored 28 goals in 28 regular season games to set the record for most goals in one regular season by a member of the Stars female midget AAA hockey team. In the Stars 8-3 victory over the Regina Rebels on Sunday at the Agriplace Arena, both Grace Shirley and captain Mackenna Parker eclipsed Greschner’s standard.
    Shirley was the first to vault past Greschner scoring her 29th goal of the season at the 1:47 mark of the second period.
    Parker recorded a hat trick in the win scoring once in the first period and twice in the second period to sit with 30 goals on the campaign. The skilled centre leads the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League in scoring with 30 goals and 27 assists for 57 points in 21 appearances.
    She is closing in on the Stars team record for most points scored in one regular season set by Emily Clark in the 2011-12 campaign. Clark, who is playing for Canada’s women’s hockey team at the Winter Olympics that are underway in PyeongChang, South Korea, had 26 goals and 34 assists for 60 points in her record setting season with the Stars.
    Kaitlin Jockims, Makena Kushniruk, Calli Arnold and Jordyn Holmes all had singles for the Stars. 
Grace Shirley scored her 29th goal of the season for the Stars on Sunday.
    Standout winger Anna Leschyshyn had three assists for Saskatoon to become the third players in the history of the Stars to record 50-or-more points in one regular season after Clark and Parker.
    Leschyshyn sits second in SFMAAAHL scoring with 22 goals and 29 assists for 51 points appearing in all of the Stars 26 regular season games.
    Ally Kosteniuk, Miranda Hatt and Lauren Focht all netted singles for the Rebels.
    Arden Kliewer made 26 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Stars. Chantel Weller turned away 27 shots to take the setback in goal for the Rebels.
    With the win, the Stars improve to 22-3-1 to sit first overall in the SFMAAAHL with a four-point edge in the standings over the defending league champion Prince Albert Northern Bears, who are 20-5-1.
Anna Leschyshyn has recorded 51 points this season for the Stars.
    In the SFMAAAHL, three points are awarded in the standings for regulation wins, two points for extra time wins and one point for extra time setbacks.
    The Stars have 64 points in the standings coming off 19 regulation wins, three extra time wins and one extra time setback. The Bears have 60 points in the standings coming off 19 regulation wins, one extra time win and one extra time setback.
    Both the Stars and Bears have two games remaining on their respective regular season schedules, and the Stars need to earn three more points in the standings to clinch first place for a fourth straight year.
    The Rebels fell to 16-8-3 with the loss.
    The Stars return to action this coming Saturday, when they host the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats at 7:45 p.m. at the Agriplace Arena.

    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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Saturday, 10 February 2018

Blades rise past Raiders

Late season clash lives up to rivalry’s reputation

Brad Goethals, right, celebrates his winning goal with Nolan Maier.
    It was a game that had a little bit of everything.
    On Saturday night at the SaskTel Centre, the Saskatoon Blades and Prince Albert Raiders renewed their traditional rivalry in one of the most important late WHL regular season clashes held between the two clubs in years.
    The encounter drew one of the biggest crowds of the season to see a Blades game at the SaskTel Centre as 4,444 spectators turned out including a healthy contingent of Raiders followers from Prince Albert.
    For the first 40 minutes, the Raiders lived up to their traditional rough and tumble image that included a mixture of some skill. The visitors seemed intent on hitting everything in sight, and they built a 3-2 lead heading into the second intermission.
    The Raiders broke a 2-2 draw late in the second period on a picturesque power-play goal as forwards Cole Fonstad and Kody McDonald combined to set up Jordy Stallard on a tick-tack-toe backdoor scoring play to go ahead 3-2.
The Blades and Raiders engaged in some rough stuff on Saturday night.
    The tally was Stallard’s second goal of the contest as he scored his first goal earlier on in the second frame.
    In the third, the Blades hit another gear and rolled off four straight goals to post a 6-3 victory. The Raiders stopped hitting and were on their heels for the entire frame.
    At the 9:15 mark of the third, the Blades tied things up at 3-3, when centre Logan Christensen scored on what seemed like a harmless shot from a bad angle. Just 73 seconds later, 19-year-old centre Brad Goethals potted his first of two goals on the night to put the hosts up 4-3.
    Momentum continued to be entrenched on the Blades side from that point. With 4:23 to play in the third, right-winger Max Gerlach centred a pass from behind the Prince Albert net to overage left-winger Braylon Shmyr, who was position in front of the Raiders goal. Shmyr wired home a shot to the top right corner of the Prince Albert net to put the Blades up 5-3.
Logan Christensen started the Blades surge in the third.
    Goethals finished the surge scoring into an empty net with 2.7 seconds to play to post a two-goal night.
    With the win, the Blades moved into sole possession of the second wildcard spot in the WHL’s Eastern Conference with a 27-26-2-1 record to sit two points up on the 22-22-9-2 Raiders. The Raiders have a game in hand on the Blades.
    The sixth clash of the 2017-18 campaign between the Blades and Raiders had many different talking points. The biggest was the finish in the third period, which saw the Blades prevail for the fourth time in the six head-to-head meetings.
    After the Raiders had been in control over the first 40 minutes, it had to be surprising for those in attendance to see the Blades storm to victory like they did in the third period. The finish was the lasting impression most would have taken away from the contest.
    The action in the third contrasted with what took place in the first 40 minutes. In the first two periods, the Raiders did a good job of getting the puck deep in the Blades zone.
Jordy Stallard celebrates scoring for the Raiders.
    The visitors established a physical forecheck and often had the hosts pinned in their own zone.
    The Blades threw some hits too, but the Raiders were the more aggressive team physically.
    Saskatoon still managed to take a 2-1 into the first intermission on singles from Michael Farren and Josh Paterson. Star right-winger Parker Kelly had the reply for Prince Albert.
    With 1:33 to play in the first, Kelly played a role in one of the moments from the contest that would be remembered for all the wrong reasons. He drove Blades rookie centre Kirby Dach from behind into the boards in the right corner of the Prince Albert zone.
    Kelly was given a major penalty for checking from behind and a game misconduct. The infraction will be automatically reviewed by the WHL league office for a possible suspension.
Braylon Shmyr scored for the Blades on Saturday.
    Dach left the game and didn’t return for either the second or third periods.
    Kelly’s hit started a scrum that featured a one-on-one fight between McDonald and Blades import defenceman Mark Rubinchik. That fight ended with McDonald tossing Rubinchik to the ground.
    The game featured some strong goaltending as well. Nolan Maier turned away 29 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Blades. Ian Scott turned away 24 of 29 shots to take the setback in goal for the Raiders.
    The Raiders now return home to face the Swift Current Broncos (39-13-3-1) on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
    The Blades take on the Memorial Cup hosting Regina Pats (29-23-5) on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre.
    With how intriguing the Blades clash with the Raiders was on Saturday, fans on both sides have to be hoping that a lot will still be on the line when the two teams close their respective regular season schedules playing each other on back-to-back nights on March 16 in Prince Albert and March 17 in Saskatoon.

Stadnyk, Lawrence spark Huskies’ romp


John Lawrence, left, scored twice for the Huskies.
    Carson Stadnyk and John Lawrence ensured the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team had little drama in closing their U Sports regular season schedule with a win.
    On Saturday night at the ancient Rutherford Rink, Stadnyk and Lawrence each scored twice to power the Huskies to a 7-2 victory over the Mount Royal University Cougars. Stadnyk scored the game’s first two goals in the first period and Lawrence tallied late in the first frame and early in the second period to stake the Huskies out to a 4-0 lead.
    The host’s edge grew to 6-0 in the second on singles coming from Collin Shirley and Kohl Bauml.
Before the second ended, Austin Adamson and David Stephens netted singles for the Cougars to cut the Huskies lead to 6-2.
    Alex Forsberg rounded out the game’s scoring with a single for the Huskies in the third.
Carson Stadnyk, right, had a two-goal night for the Huskies.
    Taran Kozun turned away 26 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Huskies. Wyatt Hoflin turned away 26 shots to take the setback in the Cougars net.
    The Huskies, who are rated fifth in the U Sports Top 10 rankings, improved to 20-7-1 to sit second in the Canada West Conference. The Dogs have won 20-or-more regular season games for the third straight year.
    The Cougars fell to 12-14-2 with the loss to finish sixth in Canada West. The Cougars will travel to Winnipeg, Man., to face the University of Manitoba Bisons in a best-of-three Canada West quarter-final playoff series, which starts with Game 1 this coming Friday.
    The Huskies have a bye to host a best-of-three Canada West semifinal series, which will be held Feb. 22 to 24 at Rutherford at times to be announced.

Huskies gets second on Vance’s ninth shutout

Jessica Vance picked up her ninth shutout.
    Playing in their biggest regular season game since 2014, the U of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team seized the moment.
    On Saturday night at the Flames Community Arena in Calgary, the Huskies went into their final game of their U Sports regular season schedule knowing they would lock up second place in the Canada West Conference with a win and earn a bye to host a best-of-three conference semifinal series. They proceeded the blank the host Mount Royal University Cougars 3-0.
    The win allowed the Huskies to improve to 19-7-2 to lock up second place in Canada West. Their win total was also regular season team record.
    U of S last finished second in Canada West in the 2013-14 campaign posting an 18-4-6 mark. They went on to win the Canada West title and a bronze medal at the U Sports national championship tournament.
    This season, they earned their second place finish compiling 58 points in the Canada West standings. In the Canada West women’s hockey standings, teams earn three points for regulation wins, two points for extra time wins and one point for extra time losses. The Huskies earned their 58 points on 18 regulation wins, one extra time win and two extra time losses.
    The University of British Columbia Thunderbirds (19-5-4), who are rated fifth in the U Sports Top 10 rankings, finished third in Canada West with 56 points in the standings built off 14 regulation wins, five extra time wins and four extra time setbacks.
    The defending U Sports national champion U of Alberta Pandas (19-5-4), who are rated second in the U Sports Top 10 rankings, finished fourth in Canada West with 55 points in the standings coming off 13 regulation wins, six extra time wins and four extra time setbacks.
    In Saturday’s clash with the Cougars, fifth-year winger Kori Herner set up fifth-year centre Kennedy Harris for a goal in the first period to give the Huskies a 1-0 edge.
Kori Herner had a goal and an assist for the Huskies on Saturday.
    Herner potted an unassisted tally at the 13:25 mark of the third to give the Huskies a 2-0 edge. Feisty centre Brooklyn Haubrich scored an empty-net goal for the Huskies inside of the final minute of the third with star captain Kaitlin Willoughby picking up an assist.
    Sophomore netminder Jessica Vance turned away 20 shots to pick up the shutout win in goal for the Huskies. Vance had nine shutouts during the regular season which ties former Pandas netminder Stacey McCullough for the second most shutouts ever recorded in one Canada West regular season. McCullough posted nine shutouts in the 2000-01 campaign.
    Lindsey Post, who is another former Pandas netminder, holds the Canada West record for most shutouts in one regular season at 10 recorded in the 2014-15 campaign.
    In 2017-18, 54 of the 112 regular season games played in the Canada West Conference for women’s hockey ended in shutouts, and the Huskies posted 12 total shutouts as a team in the campaign.
    The Huskies equaled the Canada West team record for most shutouts in one regular season at 12 matching the mark set by the Pandas in 2008-09.
    The Cougars fell to 10-17-1 with the loss to finish sixth in Canada West. They will travel to Vancouver, B.C., to face the Thunderbirds in a best-of-three Canada West quarter-final series with Game 1 beginning this coming Friday.
    The Huskies will host a best-of-three Canada West semifinal series from Feb. 23 to 25 at the Rutherford Rink at times to be announced.

Stars’ Shirley vaults to 10th in SFMAAAHL career scoring

Grace Shirley scored four goals for the Stars on Saturday.
    Grace Shirley delivered a performance for the ages for the Saskatoon Stars and vaulted into 10th place on the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League’s career regular season scoring list as a result.
    On Saturday at the Agriplace Arena, the 16-year-old centre posted four goals and an assist to lead the Stars to an 11-2 victory over the Regina Rebels. The four goals were the most tallies Shirley has scored in any game this season.
    Thanks to that effort, Shirley now has 68 goals and 46 assists for 114 points in 79 career SFMAAAHL regular season games. She passed Delaney Frey, who played for the Weyburn Richardson Pioneer Gold Wings and the Rebels from 2010 to 2015, for 10th on the SFMAAAHL’s career regular season scoring list. Frey now sits 11th in SFMAAAHL career regular season scoring with 59 goals and 54 assists for 113 points coming in 119 career regular season games.
    In the 2017-18 campaign, Shirley has 28 goals and 16 assists in 20 regular season games. Her 28 goals equals the Stars team record for most goals in a season set by Sara Greschner in the 2010-11 campaign. Greschner, who later played for the U of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team, had 28 goals and 12 assists in 28 regular season games in the 2010-11 season for the Stars.
    The Stars received a hat trick from Joelle Fiala on Saturday in their win over the Rebels, while Jordyn Gerlitz, Anna Leschyshyn, Mackenna Parker and Kaitlin Jockims all had singles.
    Leschyshyn had three assists to go along with her goal. She sits 13th on the career SFMAAAHL regular season scoring list with 52 goals and 56 assists for 108 points in 84 career regular season games.
Joelle Fiala had a hat trick for the Stars on Saturday.
    Parker had two assists to go along with her goal. The Stars captain became the second player in the history of the SFMAAAHL to surpass 150 points in career regular season scoring. She has 76 goals and 76 assists in 101 career regular season games.
    In the current campaign, Parker leads the SFMAAAHL in scoring with 27 goals and 27 assists appearing in 20 regular season games.
    Shirley and Parker helped Canada win a bronze medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Under-18 Women’s World Championship that wrapped up Jan. 13 in Dmitrov, Russia.
Jenna Merk and Ally Kostenuik netted singles for the Rebels.
    Jordan Ivanco stopped 14 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Stars. Chantel Weller turned away 14-of-20 shots playing the first two periods taking the setback in goal for the Rebels. Sadie Hastings turned away 3-of-8 shots playing the third period in relief for Regina.
    With the win, the Stars improve to 21-3-1 to remain first overall in the SFMAAAHL with a one-point standings edge over the defending league champion Prince Albert Northern Bears (20-4-1). In the SFMAAAHL, three points are awarded in the standings for regulation wins, two points for extra time wins and one point for extra time setbacks.
    The Stars have 61 points in the standings coming off 18 regulation wins, three extra time wins and one extra time setback. The Bears have 60 points in the standings coming off 19 regulation wins, one extra time win and one extra time setback. Both teams have three games remaining on their respective regular season schedules.
    The Rebels sit third in the SFMAAAHL at 16-7-3, but they won’t be able to catch either the Stars or the Bears in the standings.
    The Stars, who are riding a seven-game winning streak, and Rebels will go at it again on Sunday at 2:15 p.m. at the Agriplace Arena.

    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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