Playoff Ice Chips: Semifinal showdowns slated for Saskatoon, Edmonton

Playoff Ice Chips: Semifinal showdowns slated for Saskatoon, Edmonton

Brian Swane, Special to Canada West

EDMONTON – The 2017 Canada West men's hockey semifinals will be contested in Edmonton and Saskatoon this season – just as they were 12 months ago.

Just like last year, the visiting teams will be from Calgary.

Only this time the opponents have flip-flopped, with the Calgary Dinos headed north to take on the Alberta Golden Bears and the Mount Royal Cougars eastbound for a matchup with the Saskatchewan Huskies.

And while one of the two series went the full three games in 2016, it's quite possible both go the distance this year, given how tight the standings were in 2016-17

A look at the series:

(3) Calgary vs. (2) Alberta 

Somehow these fierce rivals avoided each other during the 2016 post-season, the first time they had not met in a playoff series in four years.

The Dinos assured they would renew acquaintances by sweeping UBC in last weekend's quarter-finals, and will arrive at Clare Drake Arena riding a seven-game win streak that dates back to the end of January.  

Coming off a bye week, the Golden Bears are rested, but with losses in two of their last three regular season games, don't have quite the same momentum as Calgary. The Bears and Dinos split four regular season games, each winning once in the other's rink.

Calgary forward Elgin Pearce led Canada West with 20 goals this season, while defenseman Drydn Dow had six points in the quarterfinal series. Matthew Greenfield, who was 8-0-1 for the Dinos in the regular season, got the win in both games against the T-Birds. Jamie Crooks (15 goals) is one of three Golden Bears that were among the top 10 goal scorers in Canada West. Netminders Brendan Burke (8-3-0, 1.70 GAA) and Luke Seimens (8-4-1, 2.82 GAA) shared time between the pipes for Alberta.

(4) Mount Royal vs. (1) Saskatchewan

After ending the season on a six-game losing streak, Mount Royal answered the bell last weekend, defeating Manitoba 2-1 in a best-of-three quarter-final with two emphatic wins (7-1, 6-1) and one close loss (3-2).

Now the Cougars face the defending conference champions, who had just five regulation defeats this season and are currently ranked second in the U SPORTS Top 10. Saskatchewan took three of four from the Cougars in 2016-17, although the teams each scored 12 times in their season series.

The Huskies surrendered only 61 goals in 28 games, the fewest in Canada West by a wide margin, though their ironman goaltender Jordan Cooke (19-4-2, 1.94 GAA) will be tested by Cougars forward Connor Rankin, who led the conference with 35 points and scored four times in three games last weekend.

Special teams could prove significant, as Mount Royal features Canada West's No. 1 power-play (23.1%), a fraction better than the Huskies (23.0).

 

Men's hockey semifinal series schedules:

Fri. 24 Mount Royal   Saskatchewan   7:00 PM CST
  CW Semifinals - Game 1
  Calgary   Alberta   7:00 PM MST
  CW Semifinals - Game 1
Sat. 25 Mount Royal   Saskatchewan   7:00 PM CST
  CW Semifinals - Game 2
  Calgary   Alberta   6:00 PM MST
  CW Semifinals - Game 2
Sun. 26 Mount Royal   Saskatchewan   7:00 PM CST
  CW Semifinals - Game 3 (if necessary)
  Calgary   Alberta   6:00 PM MST
  CW Semifinals - Game 3 (if necessary)

Watch every game on Canada West TV