With the postseason already in full gear in both the OUA and AUS, regular season action continued this weekend out west where the Dogs made some noise in the race for second place.
#2 Alberta @ Regina
With first place in the bag, the questions for Alberta heading to the Queen City for a weekend series against the Cougars who will be on the outside looking in come playoff time, was: would a starting goaltender emerge, and would the Bears put together a full 60 minute performance. The answers to both appear to be no, as the Green and Gold eeked out a pair of 5-4 wins, including an OT win Saturday night. Travis Yonkman got the start in goal for the Bears Friday night, as Alberta found themselves down 2-0 late in the first period before Derek Ryan got the Bears on the board to make it 2-1 with less than a minute to go in the first frame. Alberta would score three in the second to go up 4-2, before Regina eventually evened the score at 4-4 in the third. Ian McDonald got the game winner for the Bears, however, in the third as they skated away with the win.
Saturday night the Bears looked like they were well on their way to capping off their regular season with a convincing win, taking a 3-0 lead before the Cougars scored four consecutive goals to take a 4-3 lead with 9:44 to go in the third period. Dale Mahovsky got the equalizer for the Bears with less than two minutes to play in the third, and Eric Hunter got the OT winner 30 seconds in to salvage the win and avoid blowing a three goal lead. Real Cyr got the win in net for the Bears.
The Bears split every conference weekend this season in goal, and who will start come playoff time remains. Alberta has now completed their regular season schedule, finishing the year with a 23-4-01 record. They will host the fourth place finisher in one of two conference semis March 5-7. Regina on the other hand ends their season next weekend in Manitoba.
#9 Manitoba @ Saskatchewan
With their playoff destiny in their hands, the Manitoba Bisons travelled to Saskatoon for a pair of games against the Saskatchewan Huskies with second place in the conference on the line.
Friday night saw the Huskies, who entered the weekend tied with Manitoba at 30 points a piece in the standings, race out to a 3-0 lead thanks to a pair of goals from Steven DaSilva (each inside the first five minutes of the first and second periods) and a marker from Andrew Bailey. Manitoba got on the board in the third thanks to a Mike Hellyer goal, but that proved to be too little too late, as Kyle Ross capped off the scoring with an empty netter.
Jeff Harvey got the start for Saskatchewan Saturday after David Reekie manned the crease in the 4-1 win Friday night, and the result was much the same in the second game of the weekend as the Huskies once again raced out to a 3-0 lead, surrendered a goal, and then added an empty netter to secure a comfortable 4-1 win over the Herd. Kyle Bortis lead the way Saturday with a two goal performance.
The sweep now means that Saskatchewan needs just a single win in their final weekend of the season this week against Lethbridge to assure themselves a home playoff series in the Canada West semi finals, while Manitoba is now sitting in fourth place heading into the final regular season weekend - two points behind Calgary who has completed their conference schedule. Manitoba hosts Regina this coming weekend.
UBC @ Calgary
The Calgary Dinos wrapped up a playoff berth this weekend with a sweep of the UBC Thunderbirds.
UBC opened the weekend scoring Friday night as Cam Brodie scored at the 0:32 of the first period. That would be all the T-Birds could muster Friday, however, as Calgary scored three unanswered goals to skate away with a 3-1 win. Torrie Wheat and Reid Jorgenson both had one goal, one assist nights to lead the Dinos to the win.
Saturday night UBC once again opened the scoring when Scott Wasden scored on the power play at the 16:48 mark of the first. Teegan Moore though scored a pair of second period goals for Calgary to give them the lead heading into the third. Both sides would exchange third period goals, as the Dinos got the winner at the 18:47 mark when Brett O'Malley scored to earn the series sweep for Calgary.
Calgary finishes the season with a 13-9-3-3 record, and have qualified for the playoffs along with Alberta and Saskatchewan. UBC has also concluded their regular season, and finish the season with a 8-19-0-1 mark. Calgary will await the final regular season weekend to see who they will face in the first round of the playoffs.
Alberta, Saskatchewan and Calgary have all clinched playoff berths, while Manitoba and Lethbridge are still in the playoff race with one weekend to go - although Lethbridge is in tough having to sweep Saskatchewan and get help from Regina in order to earn a playoff berth.
Calgary will face either Alberta or Saskatchewan in the first round, depending on how the final weekend plays out.
In all likelihood the playoff matchups will be: Alberta vs. Calgary and Saskatchewan vs. Manitoba - with the matchups being finalized this coming weekend as the regular season wraps up.