Playoff Ice Chips: Quarter-finals roll into Stampede City

Playoff Ice Chips: Quarter-finals roll into Stampede City

Brian Swane, Special to Canada West

EDMONTON - While the Saskatchewan Huskies and Alberta Golden Bears kick up their feet this weekend and wait to see who they will face in the Canada West men's hockey semifinals, their potential opponents are simply focused on surviving.

UBC travels to Calgary and Mount Royal welcomes Manitoba in best-of-three quarter-final series that both could very easily go the distance.

This is nothing new for these teams, who all competed in the quarter-final round last year, when Calgary upset Manitoba in three games and Mount Royal swept UBC.

A look at the series:

(6) UBC vs. (3) Calgary

Something has to give as twoof the hottest teams in Canada West men's hockey lock horns in Calgary this weekend.

The host Dinos (18-9-1) have won five consecutive games, while the visiting T-Birds (12-13-3) have reeled off four straight wins, the last two coming on the road at Mount Royal. The Dinos took the season series 3-1 and were 2-0 against UBC in Calgary, though both games were decided by the narrowest of scores, 1-0.

Calgary's Elgin Pearce was Canada West's most prolific scorer this season, leading or tied for the first in goals (20), power-play goals (8) and short-handed goals (2). T-Birds forward Anthony Bardano ranked fourth in conference with 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists).

Both teams use a tag-team approach between the pipes, with Calgary's two-headed monster of Matthew Greenfield (8-1-0, 2.05 GAA, .931 SV%) and Steven Sanford (9-6-1, 2.51, .920) opposite the T-Birds duo of Derek Dun (7-4-3, 2.87, .910) and Matt Hewitt (5-9-0, 3.53, .885).

(5) Manitoba vs. (4) Mount Royal

Mount Royal spent eleven straight weeks ranked in the U SPORTS Top 10 this season, but has gone into a funk lately, with six straight losses.The Bisons, on the other hand, are markedly improved, with wins in eight of twelve since the holiday break.

Home advantage may not prove to be a significant factor in the series, as the Cougars are just 7-7 at home, while Manitoba is 7-7 on the road. The Cougars will look to capitalize on their potent power-play (23.1%, ranked No.1 in Canada West) by exploiting the Bisons penalty-kill (77.6%, second-worst in the conference). Connor Rankin, the conference's top point producer with 35 points (17 goals and 18 assists), scored seven times on the man-advantage for Mount Royal this season, but has no power-play goals in his last nine games.

The Cougars swept all four games against Manitoba this season, including a pair of 5-1 wins.

Men's hockey quarter-final series schedule:

Fri. 17 Manitoba   Mount Royal   7:00 PM MST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 1
  UBC   Calgary   7:00 PM MST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 1
Sat. 18 UBC   Calgary   6:00 PM MST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 2
  Manitoba   Mount Royal   7:00 PM MST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 2
Sun. 19 UBC   Calgary   6:00 PM MST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 3 (if necessary)
  Manitoba   Mount Royal   7:00 PM MST
  CW Quarter-finals - Game 3 (if necessary)

Watch every game on Canada West TV.