The premier matchup in Canada West men's hockey this weekend saw the #2 Alberta Golden Bears take on the #6 Manitoba Bisons in a top-10 showdown in Edmonton, with first place in the conference also on the line.
The Bisons were solid all weekend long, and managed to skate away with a 3-2 victory Friday night, handing the Bears their first regulation loss of the regular season. Calin Wild and Riley Dudar scored only 20 seconds apart in the second to give Manitoba a 2-1 lead, en route to the win. Steve Christie was clutch between the pipes for the Herd, making 33 saves Friday night. Jesse Gimblett was the best Bear offensively, scoring both Alberta goals and setting up his linemates for several glorious scoring opportunities they couldn't capitalize on. Saturday night saw the Bears come out with a great first period effort, scoring a trio of goals to take a commanding lead. The teams traded second period goals, before the third when Manitoba outplayed the #2 team in the nation, eventually cutting the lead down to 4-3 before the Bears cemented the win with a late insurance goal. Both teams remain tied atop the conference standings after the split.
Worth noting: Lee Zalasky and Jason Fransoo were both healthy scratches for the Bears Saturday night as head coach Eric Thurston wasn't happy with the two veterans' play in the loss Friday and opted instead to insert Mike MacAngus and Aaron Agnew into the lineup.
Alberta heads to UBC next weekend for a pair against the T-Birds, while Manitoba has a bye next weekend.
In Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan Huskies bounced back from their sweep at the hands of the Bears a week earlier, with a sweep of their own on home ice over the Lethbridge Pronghorns. Steven DaSilva lead the way for the Dawgs Friday night with a hat trick and a pair of assists in a 7-3 Huskies win. Saskatchewan directed 50 shots on goal Friday night, making Lethbridge netminder Scott Bowles a very busy man in goal, as he made 43 stops on the night. The Huskies were impressive again Saturday night, as they saw goals from eight different players en route to another big win 9-2. David Reekie got the start for the Huskies Saturday night after Jeff Harvey had picked up the win for the Huskies in Friday night's affair. With the pair of wins, Saskatchewan now has a record of 3-5-0, and no longer sit in the cellar of the Canada West standings as the Huskies now have 6 points - two more than last place Regina.
Saskatchewan travels to Calgary next weekend for a pair of games against the Dinos, while the Pronghorns return to the province of Saskatchewan next weekend to face the Regina Cougars.
Mark Howell and his newlook Calgary Dinos continued their strong start to the season with a pair of home wins over the Regina Cougars this past weekend. Brock Nixon and Torrie Wheat were the catalysts offensively for the Dinos Friday night, as each picked up a pair of goals, with Wheat also adding a lone assist in a 5-2 Calgary win. Regina's powerplay finally managed a goal Friday night, only the team's third of the season, when former Red Deer Rebel Carter Smith scored his third of the season. It was a tight affair Saturday night, as Calgary goalie Dustin Butler made 30 saves on 31 shots to earn first star honours in a 2-1 Dinos win. Regina got the all important first goal Saturday night when Dan Bohemier scored his second of the season less than five minutes into the first. Calgary answered back with a pair of goals in the second, however, and skated away with a 2-1 win. With the wins, the Dinos cut the gap between themselves and both the Bears and Bisons for first place, as those two teams split. Calgary now sits only one point back of both Alberta and Manitoba with 12 points for tops in the CW. The Dinos should garner some more top-10 votes this week after another solid weekend, as they continue to look vastly improved compared to last season.
Calgary welcomes the Huskies next weekend while Regina hosts Lethbridge.