Hockey: CW recap - Three series splits leave standings stagnant

Huskies let one slip away, then split - With a three goal cushion Friday night at home heading into the third period against the #9 Manitoba Bisons, it appeared the #7 Saskatchewan Huskies were on their way to earning a big victory. That lead wouldn't stand the test of time, however, with the Herd scoring five unanswered goals to score a 5-3 win.

Saskatchewan had taken a 3-0 lead early in the second thanks to Brennan Bosch's sixth of the season on the man advantage, but Manitoba would get on the board in the second frame when Kyle Howarth scored. Then in the third it was all Bisons, scoring four goals to net the win.

Saturday night was a different story, with the Huskies earning a 5-2 win with rookie Ryan Holfeld backstopping his team to pick up his third win in four outings on the year. Andrew Bailey led the charge offensively with a hat trick, giving him seven goals on the season - it was just one of four hat tricks this weekend in the conference, but there's more on that later.

Friday night's collapse was a disappointing one for Saskatchewan, with a split not doing anything to help the Huskies hopes at distancing themselves from Manitoba for second in the conference. The Huskies did manage to come back Saturday night and get a win after Friday's frustrating final frame at Rutherford rink. Manitoba has two games in hand on the Huskies, and those games will be made up next weekend when the Bisons host Lethbridge, while Saskatchewan has the weekend off. The two sides have one more regular season series against each other, and that comes the final regular season weekend February 25-26 in Winnipeg. I expect those games to be a precursor to a first round playoff series between the two sides.

Hats fly at Nicholas Sheran - It was a wild weekend in Lethbridge between the #2 Alberta Golden Bears and Lethbridge Pronghorns, with the two sides combining for 17 goals Friday in a 9-8 Alberta overtime win. Three players had hat tricks on the night, with Derek Ryan and Eric Hunter each scoring a trio for the Green and Gold while Daniel Iwanski had three for the 'Horns.

It was the first time in nearly seven years that two Alberta players had scored two-or-more hat tricks, with the last time the feat was accomplished being February 21, 2004 when Tyler Shybunka and Harlan Anderson each had three goals in a 10-1 Alberta win over the Pronghorns. Steve Knowles broke it all down on Friday night, and you can check out more of the story over at South Campus Sports.

Friday night was hardly a polished win for the Bears, and Saturday night some of the Bears holes were on display again, with Lethbridge scoring a 4-2 win, handing the Bears their third regulation loss of the season. Four different Pronghorns scored in the win, as they kept pace in the race for the playoffs thanks to a split in Calgary between the Dinos and T-Birds.

For Alberta two sub par weekends are troubling, as the team looks to find a way to bounce back next weekend against Calgary. Expect the Bears to fall once again in the top 10 this Tuesday, with McGill winning their lone game over the weekend.

T-Birds split visit to Calgary -
Sticking with the theme of splits this weekend in Canada West, the Calgary Dinos couldn't bust out the broom Saturday night against the UBC Thunderbirds, as both teams took a game in their weekend series in the Stampede City.

After a convincing 7-2 win Friday night over the T-Birds in which newcomer Walker Wintoneak netted his first two goals in a Dinos sweater to go along with a pair of assists. Torrie Wheat also chipped in with a goal and an assist, as head coach Mark Howell's team cruised to the comfortable victory.

It was a different story Saturday night as is often the case after a cake walk like atmosphere on Friday night, with UBC coming out on the right end of a 5-3 decision despite going only one-for-11 on the powerplay. Wintoneak was once again the bright spot for the Dinos, scoring two more goals, but that wasn't enough for Calgary. Matthew Schneider had two goals and two assists in the winning effort for the T-Birds, as they remain in the playoff picture only two points back of the Dinos.

It's become a common theme early in 2011, but no team has been able to distance themselves from the rest of the conference to start the second half of the season. Six of seven teams are right in the hunt for the playoffs, and it's looking more and more like it's going to be that way until the end of February without a team stepping up as of yet.
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