Calgary, UBC ready to open CIS women's hockey tourney

Calgary, UBC ready to open CIS women's hockey tourney

CIS Communications

OTTAWA – The University of Guelph Gryphons have been established tournament favourites for what promises to be one of the most competitive CIS women’s hockey championship in recent years, this week in Calgary. 

CHAMPIONSHIP WEBSITE: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/wice/index

The eight-team national tournament, hosted for the second straight year by the University of Calgary, kicks off on Thursday at the Markin MacPhail Centre and culminates Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Mountain Time (2:30 p.m. Eastern) with the gold-medal final, live on Sportsnet 360 and TVA Sports 2. Saturday’s semifinals are also televised live on Sportsnet ONE (2 p.m. & 5:30 p.m. Mountain) and all 11 games from the competition will be streamed onwww.CIS-SIC.tv.

Joining the OUA conference champion Gryphons in their quest for the Golden Path Trophy are the second-seeded Montreal Carabins (RSEQ champs), No. 3 Saint Mary’s Huskies (AUS champs), No. 4 UBC Thunderbirds (Canada West champs), No. 5 McGill Martlets (RSEQ finalists), No. 6 and defending national champion Western Mustangs (OUA finalists), No. 7 Calgary Dinos (hosts) and No. 8 St. Thomas Tommies (AUS finalists).

The quarter-final matchups include St. Thomas vs. Guelph (11 a.m.) and McGill vs. UBC (3 p.m.) on Thursday, followed by Western vs. Saint Mary’s (3 p.m.) and Calgary vs. Montreal (7 p.m.) on Friday.

The too-close-to-call 2016 draw features a four-time CIS champion in McGill (2014, 2011, 2009, 2008), a trio of programs that recently claimed their first title in Western (2015), Montreal (2013) and Calgary (2012), as well as four teams still looking for their first triumph.

Heading into the national tourney as the No. 1 seed for the first time, Guelph is enjoying the best season in program history. Thanks to the nation’s best defence (1.23 goal per game) and the second-best offence (3.25 gpg), the Gryphons finished atop the OUA standings with a CIS-best 21-2-1 record, before capturing their first conference banner since 1998 with five wins in six playoff outings, including a 5-1 domination in Saturday’s McCaw Cup final.

The Gryphons, who placed fifth a year ago in their first CIS championship appearance since 2000, are led by sophomore goaltender Valerie Lamenta, who was named OUA MVP in her first season as the team’s starting netminder after she led the country in goals against average (0.99) and save percentage (.957).

“Last season’s opening game loss at nationals was a heartbreaker and is still fresh in the minds of a lot of our players,” said nine-year head coach Rachel Flanagan, whose team lost 4-3 to StFX after building a 3-0 second-period lead. “We return essentially the same squad as last year, so the girls are determined to improve on our fifth-place finish. Last year, we also had the chance to go to Calgary twice, once during the preseason and once for nationals, so it’s a place our players are comfortable and familiar with.”

In only seven years of CIS hockey, Montreal is making its sixth appearance at the championship and has already racked up four podium finishes (1-2-1), including the program’s lone title in 2013 in Toronto and a bronze medal last winter. The Carabins topped the country in scoring in conference play this season with 3.45 goals per game and gave top-ranked Guelph a taste of their firepower back in September, defeating the Gryphons 7-4 in preseason action.

“As has been the case for a number of seasons, I think it will be a highly competitive championship,” said seven-year bench boss Isabelle Leclaire, whose troops dominated archrival McGill this season winning seven of eight confrontations overall, including a sweep of the best-of-three RSEQ final. “We had a good second half. I believe we’re well prepared and confident going in. I think playing in Calgary again will be an advantage for the teams that were here last year.” 

Making its first tournament appearance since 2010, Saint Mary’s operated an impressive turnaround this season, improving from an 11-11-2 mark a year ago to 17-6-1 and first place in the AUS standings. Looking for their first CIS medal, the Huskies are paced by third-year forward Breanna Lanceleve, who led the team in goals (11), assists (17) and points (28) in 24 league matches.

“We look forward to competing with the best teams in the country and giving our best efforts in representing SMU in Calgary,” said five-year coach Chris Larade, whose team was pushed to the limit of three games by St. Thomas in the AUS championship series but dominated the decisive contest 5-1. “We have worked long and hard for this opportunity and hope to make the most of it.”

After ending the fall semester on a five-game losing streak, UBC got back on track in the new year, winning 10 of its final 12 league games to finish second behind Alberta in the Canada West standings. The Thunderbirds then booked their ticket for Calgary with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Manitoba in Game 3 of the best-of-three conference final. 

“Our team is so excited to have the opportunity to represent our school and our extremely competitive Canada West conference,” said four-year coach Graham Thomas, whose T-Birds placed fifth at the 2013 CIS rendez-vous in his first season behind the bench. “We have learned a lot as a group since our last trip to nationals in 2013 and feel we have an experienced, tight-knit group, who are driven and motivated to be a contender this year.”

The most-decorated team at this week’s competition, McGill hasn’t been as dominant as in recent years this season, but you can never count out the Martlets come national championship time. The perennial powerhouse still has plenty of weapons, none more dangerous than fourth-year forward Mélodie Daoust, an Olympic gold medallist who claimed the RSEQ scoring title and ranked first in the country in points per game with an 18-16-34 tally in only 20 league contests.

“We don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the tournament draw, when you go to the CIS championship, you’re focused on playing your best,” said long-time bench boss Peter Smith, a former national team coach who has guided the Martlets to a berth at the CIS championship in 14 of his 16 seasons, winning four national titles in addition to three silver-medal finishes and five bronzes. “Our focus is on playing our game with speed and structure. Every year there are under-achievers and over-achievers at nationals and there are upsets. We just want to go out and play the kind of hockey that we’ve played all year. We’ve got some depth and work real hard, so that’s probably our best trademark.”

Looking to become the first team to repeat as Golden Path Trophy champion since McGill in 2009, the Mustangs have their work cut out for them, starting with AUS champion Saint Mary’s on Friday. No player is more important to Western’s success than senior goaltender Kelly Campbell, who was named MVP of last year’s CIS championship after she turned aside a mind-boggling 93 of 94 shots over three games, including back-to-back shutouts in the semis and final against Montreal and McGill, respectively. 

“We are excited for the opportunity to return to Calgary in defence of our CIS championship,” said second-year coach Dennis Barrett. “Last year was a phenomenal event for our players, and we look forward to another great week of competition, experiences and memories.”

Despite their modest 13-19 overall record against CIS opponents this season, including a 12-12-4 mark that left them in sixth place in the Canada West standings, the tournament host Calgary Dinos boast two of the most dynamic players in CIS hockey in Russian forwards Iya Gavrilova and Sasha Vafina. Gavrilova, the CIS player of the year last season, led the country in goals (20) and points (43) in 28 league contests, while her compatriot finished second in the national scoring race with 35 points.  

“We know we are heading in as an underdog, but we think we can surprise some people, especially after our outstanding second half of the season,” said eight-year mentor Danielle Goyette, whose team went 9-3 in conference play in the new year after losing 13 of 16 before the December break. “When you look at the other teams coming in, all seven are part of the top 10. We know we aren’t a favourite but we have been preparing hard for the last three weeks. We’ve been playing really well, and when you have the national championship in your city you need to make sure to enjoy the experience. Our players might never have the chance to do this again.”

St. Thomas was in a three-way battle with Saint Mary’s and Moncton the entire season in the AUS, finishing two points back of the Huskies and one point behind the Aigles Bleues in the standings. Team captain Kelty Apperson, a fourth-year forward, was named conference MVP thanks to her 12-14-26 dossier in 24 games.

“Earning the chance to attend the national championship was one of our goals this season. Our players now look forward to compete against the very best teams in the country,” said 14-year head coach Peter Murphy, whose team went 0-3 on home ice two years ago in its lone previous appearance at the competition. “We have several players from our team that hosted the nationals in Fredericton in 2014. They will look to inspire their teammates to bring their best performance at what will be a tremendous opportunity for our hockey program.”

NOTES: All Wednesday practices at the Markin MacPhail Centre (A Arena) are open to the media, starting at 7 a.m. MT... The Sun Life Financial All-Canadian Banquet is set for Wednesday evening at the Markin MacPhail Centre (Winsport Ballroom).

 

PARTICIPATING TEAMS

 

NO. 1 GUELPH GRYPHONS 

Team Statistics

Head Coach: Rachel Flanagan (9th season)

Regular season record: 21-2-1

Regular season standing: 1st OUA

Playoff record: 5-1

Playoff finish: OUA champions

Overall record vs. CIS teams:  28-5

Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 23): No. 1

Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (10 weeks)

Top 10 number of weeks ranked (15 polls): 15

National ranking (offence): 2nd (3.25)

National ranking (defence): 1st (1.23)

National ranking (power play): 13th (14.3)

National ranking (penalty kill): 9th (89.1) 

Individual Statistics

Conference award winners: Valerie Lamenta (MVP), Rachel Flanagan (coach)

Conference 1st team all-stars: Valerie Lamenta (G), Leigh Shilton (D), Averi Nooren (F)

Conference 2nd team all-stars: Jessica Pinkerton (F)

Conference all-rookie team: None

Season leader (points): Averi Nooren, 14-11-25 (24 GP)

Season leader (goals): Averi Nooren, 14 (24 GP)

Season leader (assists): Brittany St.James, 16 (24 GP)

Season leader (goalie): Valerie Lamenta (18 GP, 16-2, 7 SHO, 0.99 GAA, .957)

CIS Championship History

Appearances: 4th  

Last appearance: 2015 (5th place)

All-time record: 4-6 (.400)

All-time medals: 0

Best result: 4th place (1998)

Sequence: 2nd consecutive appearance

 

NO. 2 MONTREAL CARABINS 

Team Statistics

Head Coach: Isabelle Leclaire (7th season)

Regular season record: 15-3-2

Regular season standing: 1st RSEQ

Playoff record: 4-0

Playoff finish: RSEQ champions

Overall record vs. CIS teams: 24-5

Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 23): No. 2

Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (3 weeks)

Top 10 number of weeks ranked (15 polls): 15

National ranking (offence): 1st (3.45)

National ranking (defence): 5th (1.58)

National ranking (power play): 4th (20.0)

National ranking (penalty kill): 13th (88.2)

Individual Statistics

Conference award winners: None

Conference 1st team all-stars: Marie-Pier Chabot (G), Maude Laramée (D), Ariane Barker (F)

Conference 2nd team all-stars: Catherine Dubois (F), Alexandra Labelle (F)

Conference all-rookie team: Kim Poirier (D), Catherine Dubois (F), Alexandra Labelle (F)

Season leaders (points): Ariane Barker, 10-9-19 (19 GP) / Alexandra Labelle, 8-11-19 (20 GP)

Season leader (goals): Ariane Barker, 10 (19 GP) / Catherine Dubois, 10 (19 GP)

Season leader (assists): Alexandra Labelle, 11 (20 GP) / Maude Laramée, 11 (20 GP)

Season leader (goalie): Marie-Pier Chabot (11 GP, 8-3, 2 SHO, 1.33 GAA, .945) 

CIS Championship History

Appearances: 6th 

Last appearance: 2015 (bronze)

All-time record: 10-5 (.667)

All-time medals: 4 (1-2-1)

Best result: Champions (2013)

Sequence: 5th consecutive appearance

 

NO. 3 SAINT MARY’S HUSKIES

Team Statistics

Head Coach: Chris Larade (5th season)

Regular season record: 17-6-1

Regular season standing: 1st AUS

Playoff record: 4-2

Playoff finish: AUS champions

Overall record vs. CIS teams: 25-11

Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 23): No. 5

Top 10 best ranking: No. 4 (2 weeks)

Top 10 number of weeks ranked (15 polls): 10

National ranking (offence): 4th (2.89)

National ranking (defence): 14th (1.93)

National ranking (power play): 30th (8.2)

National ranking (penalty kill): 8th (88.2)

Individual Statistics

Conference award winners: Rebecca Clark (rookie), Chris Larade (coach)

Conference 1st team all-stars: Sarah Douglas (D), Breanna Lanceleve (F)

Conference all-rookie team: Rebecc Clark (G), Kiana Wilkinson (D), Hayley Hallihan (F)

Season leader (points): Breanna Lanceleve, 11-17, 28 (24 GP)

Season leader (goals): Breanna Lanceleve, 11 (24 GP)

Season leader (assists): Breanna Lanceleve, 17 (24 GP)

Season leader (goalie): Rebecca Clark (16 GP, 13-3, 2 SHO, 1.86 GAA, .914)

CIS Championship History

Appearances: 5th 

Last appearance: 2010 (4th place)

All-time record: 1-11 (.083)

All-time medals: 0

Best result: 4th place (2010)

Sequence: Return after 5-year absence

 

NO. 4 UBC THUNDERBIRDS

Team Statistics

Head Coach: Graham Thomas (4th season)

Regular season record: 16-9-3

Regular season standing: 2nd Canada West

Playoff record: 4-2

Playoff finish: Canada West champions

Overall record vs. CIS teams: 21-16

Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 23): No. 8

Top 10 best ranking: No. 8 (1 week)

Top 10 number of weeks ranked (15 polls): 7

National ranking (offence): 14th (2.46)

National ranking (defence): 12th (1.87)

National ranking (power play): 18th (12.1)

National ranking (penalty kill): 18th (86.3)

Individual Statistics

Conference award winners: None

Conference 1st team all-stars: None

Conference 2nd team all-stars: Kelly Murray (D), Rebecca Unrau (F)

Conference all-rookie team: Mathea Fischer (F)
Season leader (points): Rebecca Unrau, 12-12-24 (28 GP)

Season leaders (goals): Kathleen Cahoon, 12 (28 GP), Rebecca Unrau 12 (28 GP)

Season leader (assists): Kelly Murray, 15 (28 GP)

Season leader (goalie): Danielle Dube (16 GP, 9-5-1, 3 SHO, 1.76 GAA, .924)

CIS Championship History

Appearances: 2nd  

Last appearance: 2013 (5th place)

All-time record: 1-2 (.333)

All-time medals: 0

Best result: 5th place (2013)

Sequence: Return after 2-year absence

 

No. 5 McGILL MARTLETS 

Team Statistics

Head Coach: Peter Smith (16th season)

Regular season record: 13-5-2

Regular season standing: 2nd RSEQ

Playoff record: 2-2

Playoff finish: RSEQ finalists

Overall record vs. CIS teams: 19-12

Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 23): No. 3

Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (1 week)

Top 10 number of weeks ranked (15 polls): 15

National ranking (offence): 8th (2.60)

National ranking (defence): 4th (1.54)

National ranking (power play): 12th (15.0)

National ranking (penalty kill): 27th (83.3) 

Individual Statistics

Conference award winners: Olivia Sutter (student-athlete)

Conference 1st team all-stars: Brittney Fouracres (D), Mélodie Daoust (F)

Conference 2nd team all-stars: Kelsie Moffatt (D), Gabrielle Davidson (F)

Conference all-rookie team: None

Season leader (points): Mélodie Daoust, 18-16-34 (20 GP)

Season leader (goals): Mélodie Daoust, 18 (20 GP)

Season leader (assists): Mélodie Daoust, 16 (20 GP)

Season leader (goalie): Taylor Hough (17 GP, 11-6, 4 SHO, 1.79 GAA, .924) 

CIS Championship History

Appearances: 16th

Last appearance: 2015 (finalists)

All-time record: 32-13 (.711)

All-time medals: 13 (4-4-5)

Best result: 4-time champions (2014, 2011, 2009, 2008)

Sequence: 3rd consecutive appearance (13th in 14 years)

 

NO. 6 WESTERN MUSTANGS

Team Statistics

Head Coach: David Barrett (2nd season)

Regular season record: 15-8-1

Regular season standing: 3rd OUA

Playoff record: 4-2

Playoff finish: OUA finalists

Overall record vs. CIS teams: 23-12

Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 23): No. 7

Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (1 week)

Top 10 number of weeks ranked (15 polls): 15

National ranking (offence): 13th (2.54)

National ranking (defence): 3rd (1.51)

National ranking (power play): 10th (15.6)

National ranking (penalty kill): 5th (90.6)

Individual Statistics

Conference award winners: None

Conference 1st team all-stars: Katelyn Gosling (D)

Conference 2nd team all-stars: None

Conference all-rookie team: None

Season leader (points): Brittany Clapham, 9-10-19 (24 GP)

Season leaders (goals): Kendra Broad, 9 (18 GP) / Brittany Clapham, 9 (24 GP)

Season leader (assists): Katelyn Gosling, 14 (24 GP)

Season leader (goalie): Kelly Campbell (21 GP, 12-7, 4 SHO, 1.53 GAA, .948)

CIS Championship History

Appearances: 2nd  

Last appearance: 2015 (champions)

All-time record: 3-0 (1.000)

All-time medals: 1 (1-0-0)

Best result: Champions (2015)

Sequence: 2nd consecutive appearance

 

No. 7 CALGARY DINOS 

Team Statistics

Head Coach: Danielle Goyette (8th season)

Regular season record: 12-12-4

Regular season standing: 6th Canada West

Playoff record: 0-2

Playoff finish: Canada West quarter-finalists

Overall record vs. CIS teams: 13-19

Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 23): Unranked

Top 10 best ranking: Unranked all season

Top 10 number of weeks ranked (15 polls): 0

National ranking (offence): 16th (2.29)

National ranking (defence): 28th (2.79)

National ranking (power play): 19th (12.0)

National ranking (penalty kill): 26th (83.6) 

Individual Statistics

Conference award winners: Iya Gavrilova (MVP)

Conference 1st team all-stars: Iya Gavrilova (F), Sasha Vafina (F)

Conference 2nd team all-stars: None

Conference all-rookie team: None

Season leader (points): Iya Gavrilova, 20-23-43 (28 GP)

Season leader (goals): Iya Gavrilova, 20 (28 GP)

Season leader (assists): Iya Gavrilova, 23 (28 GP)

Season leader (goalie): Hayley Dowling (18 GP, 10-6, 2 SHO, 2.30 GAA, .915)

CIS Championship History

Appearances: 5th 

Last appearance: 2015 (tied 7th place)

All-time record: 6-5 (.455)

All-time medals: 2 (1-1-0)

Best result: Champions (2012)

Sequence: 2nd consecutive appearance (4th in 5 years)

 

NO. 8 ST. THOMAS TOMMIES 

Team Statistics

Head Coach: Peter Murphy (14th year)

Regular season record: 16-7-1

Regular season standing: 3rd AUS

Playoff record: 5-2

Playoff finish: AUS finalists

Overall record vs. CIS teams: 17-11

Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 23): No. 6

Top 10 best ranking: No. 6 (3 weeks)

Top 10 number of weeks ranked (15 polls): 11

National ranking (offence): 7th (2.67)

National ranking (defence): 13th (1.93)

National ranking (power play): 6th (18.3)

National ranking (penalty kill): 21st (85.6)

Individual Statistics

Conference award winners: Kelty Apperson (MVP)

Conference 1st team all-stars: Kelty Apperson (F)

Conference 2nd team all-stars: Jessica McCann (D)

Conference all-rookie team: Jessica McCann (D)

Season leaders (points): Kelty Apperson, 12-14-26 (24 GP)

Season leader (goals): Lauren Henman, 16 (24 GP)

Season leader (assists): Kelty Apperson, 14 (24 GP)

Season leader (goalie): Taylor Cook (19 GP, 11-7, 1 SHO, 1.90 GAA, .929)

CIS Championship History

Appearances: 2nd  

Last appearance: 2014 (6th place)

All-time record: 0-3 (.000)

All-time medals: 0

Best result: 6th place (2014)

Sequence: Return after 1-year absence

 

CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (all times MOUNTAIN TIME) 

Wednesday, March 16

7:00-17:45 60-minute practices OPEN TO MEDIA (Markin MacPhail Centre - A Arena)  

18:00 Sun Life Financial All-Canadian Banquet (Markin MacPhail Centre – Winsport Ballroom)

Thursday, March 17

11:00 Quarter-final 1: No. 8 St. Thomas vs. No. 1 Guelph (www.CIS-SIC.tv

15:00 Quarter-final 2: No. 5 McGill vs. No. 4 UBC (www.CIS-SIC.tv

Friday, March 18

11:00 Consolation 1: Loser QF 1 vs. Loser QF 2 (www.CIS-SIC.tv

15:00 Quarter-final 3: No. 6 Western vs. No. 3 Saint Mary’s (www.CIS-SIC.tv

19:00 Quarter-final 4: No. 7 Calgary vs. No. 2 Montreal (www.CIS-SIC.tv

Saturday, March 19

10:00 Consolation 2: Loser QF 3 vs. Loser QF 4 (www.CIS-SIC.tv

14:00 Semifinal 1: Winner QF 1 vs. Winner QF 2 (Sportsnet ONE / www.CIS-SIC.tv) * 

17:30 Semifinal 2: Winner QF 3 vs. Winner QF 4 (Sportsnet ONE / www.CIS-SIC.tv) * 

Sunday, March 20

8:45 Bronze (www.CIS-SIC.tv(at Joan Snyder Arena)   

9:00 5th-place game (www.CIS-SIC.tv

12:30 Final (Sportsnet 360 & TVA Sports 2 / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *  

* Webcast of the semifinals & final are on pay-per-view basis.