Hockey: Canada West weekly roundup

If there was any doubt which team heads the Canada West pack heading into the home stretch of the regular season, there isn’t anymore thanks to the Saskatchewan Huskies sweep of the Alberta Golden Bears this past weekend.

Here’s a look at some of the headlines from this past weekend of action.

Huskies make a statement

In a series with first-place on the line, the Saskatchewan Huskies came out and made a statement at home. The now number-three ranked Huskies earned a 5-2 win Friday night in Saskatoon before following that effort up with a gutsy 5-4 victory in a Saturday matinee.

The Huskies Saturday win was especially impressive after the home team used four second period goals to erase a 3-1 Alberta lead after 20 minutes of play. Captain Kyle Ross led the way with the hat-trick performance Saturday in front of just over 1,200 fans at Credit Union Centre.

With the pair of wins Saskatchewan takes sole possession of first in the conference opening up a four-point lead on Alberta. That gap isn’t insurmountable, but is unquestionably significant.

Friday – Alberta 2 at Saskatchewan 5
Saturday – Alberta 4 at Saskatchewan 5

Bisons still in the running

First-place isn’t guaranteed to go the way of Saskatchewan, but if any team is going to catch them it could be Manitoba. The Herd are a full six points back, but have two games in hand on both Saskatchewan and Alberta.

While a clean regulation split between the Bears and Huskies would’ve been ideal for head coach Mike Sirant’s team, at least the Huskies didn’t leave any scraps for Alberta to distance the Bears from the Bisons.

This coming weekend will determine whether, or not Manitoba has any chance at first, as they host the Huskies in Winnipeg.

Bears specialty teams slacking

If there’s one number that points to why Alberta lost both their games against Saskatchewan this past weekend, perhaps it’s the number five. The Bears surrendered five goals both games, but more importantly were -5 in the specialty teams department scoring only one PP marker while giving up six. Saskatchewan went 6-for-15 on the PP against Alberta, including scoring four of their five goals Saturday on the man advantage.

Those numbers don’t bode well for the Bears if they hope to make something happen in the Canada West playoffs, which in all likelihood will end in Saskatoon one way, or another.

Friday – Alberta 2 at Saskatchewan 5
Saturday – Alberta 4 at Saskatchewan 5

Basement dwellers still slumping

While both the Lethbridge Pronghorns and Regina Cougars had solid outings Friday night — the ‘Horns won 3-2 in OT against Calgary and Regina lost a close 4-2 contest to UBC — neither team put up much a fight the following night, both suffering convincing losses.

Lethbridge’s single point to the Cougars zero this past weekend means there is now a three-point gap between the two, with the ‘Horns in the lead for the final playoff spot. The southern Alberta squad should make the postseason, but with six of their final eight games against nationally ranked teams — four of the six are against Alberta — Lethbridge’s road to the playoffs won’t be easy.

Working to the Pronghorns advantage is the fact that they’ll control their destiny playing their other two games against Regina, and the fact that the Cougars still have games against Saskatchewan on the schedule (that being said Regina has played their provincial rivals tough in recent times).

Friday – Regina 2 at UBC 4
Saturday – Regina 0 at UBC 4

Friday – Calgary 2 at Lethbridge 3
Saturday – Lethbridge 1 at Calgary 4

First win continues to evade DeSerres

Rookie netminder Jacob DeSerres can’t catch a break in the Calgary net this season. The Memorial Cup champion hasn’t seen much ice in Cowtown for the Dinos, getting only his third start of the season this past Friday in the loss to Lethbridge. DeSerres wasn’t to blame stopping 35 of 38 shots, but still that’s little consolation for the former junior standout who’s .875 SV% and 3.97 GAA along with his 0-3 record aren’t picturesque.

Two poor performances from the first half of the season are largely to blame for his numbers, but for DeSerres being part of a three-headed goalie monster can’t be good for his game.

Friday – Calgary 2 at Lethbridge 3
Saturday – Lethbridge 1 at Calgary 4
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