Playoff Ice Chips: Huskies, Herd welcome Cougars for quarters

Playoff Ice Chips: Huskies, Herd welcome Cougars for quarters

Brian Swane, Special to Canada West

EDMONTON - No one will forget the last game played during the 2016 Canada West women's hockey quarter-final round, which was so good it just didn't want to end.

It took five overtimes before Manitoba scored to post a 2-1 win over Saskatchewan in the deciding game of a best-of-three series.

As the 2017 post-season begins Friday with a pair of quarterfinal match-ups, could there be another instant-classic in the offing?

Judging by how the teams stack it up, it's entirely possible. There could be a nail-biting overtime, or a do-or-die Game 3, or perhaps even a nail-biting overtime in a do-or-die Game 3.

Alberta and UBC have byes to the semi-final, and await this weekend's winners.

A look at the series:

(6) Mount Royal vs. (3) Manitoba

The Bisons' quest to get back to the Canada West final for a third consecutive year starts in Winnipeg this weekend, where they will battle the upstart Cougars, who are making their Canada West playoff debut.

While Manitoba took three of four from the Cougars this season, Mount Royal can look to its 5-3 road win in the teams' last meeting for momentum.

Special teams play will be critical, with Manitoba ranked No. 1 in Canada West this season on both the power-play (91.5%) and penalty-kill (23.4%). Led by the Canada West scoring leader (Lauryn Keen, 34 points) and one of the top goaltenders Rachel Dyck (15 wins, 5 shutouts), Manitoba boasts a +38 goal differential (second in conference). While they've never been on this stage before, Mount Royal isn't lacking clutch players: Gabrielle Seper, Shawni Rodeback, and Megan Carver combined to score 13 goals this season, eight of which were game-winners.  

(5) Regina vs. (4) Saskatchewan

Including a pre-season victory, the Cougars are 4-1 against the Huskies this season and won both games at Rutherford Rink, which will host this best-of-three series.

In four regular season meetings between these two teams, Regina out-scored Saskatchewan by a total of 7-3. The series features two of this season's top-four goal-scorers in Canada West; Jaycee Magwood of Regina (12 goals in 24 games) and Huskies forward Kaitlin Willoughby (11 in 24).

Saskatchewan's Cassidy Hendricks (11-9-3, 1.67 GAA, .928 SV%) was the busiest goalie in Canada West this season, logging a 1,400 minutes in 24 appearances. The Cougars have split net-minding duties between rookie Morgan Baker and Jan Kish, though the latter has started four of Regina's last five games.

Women's hockey quarter-final series schedule:

Fri. 17 Regina   Saskatchewan   7:00 PM CST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 1
  Mount Royal   Manitoba   7:00 PM CST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 1
Sat. 18 Regina   Saskatchewan   7:00 PM CST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 2
  Mount Royal   Manitoba   7:00 PM CST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 2
Sun. 19 Mount Royal   Manitoba   4:00 PM CST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 3 (if necessary)
  Regina   Saskatchewan   7:00 PM CST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 3 (if necessary)

Watch every game on Canada West TV