Canada West Men’s Hockey preview: Road to the 2014 Potash Corp University Cup

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October 3, 2013, EDMONTON – The puck drops on the 2013-14 Canada West men’s hockey seasons on Friday as six of eight men’s hockey teams open the 28-game season this weekend.

http://bit.ly/16kkrMD 

Canada West Men’s Hockey preview: Road to the 2014 Potash Corp University Cup

EDMONTON – The puck drops on the 2013-14 Canada West men’s hockey seasons on Friday as six of eight men’s hockey teams open the 28-game season this weekend.

The University of Saskatchewan will host the 2014 Potash Corp University Cup, March 20-23 in Saskatoon.

ALBERTA GOLDEN BEARS

  • 2012-13 conference record: 23-4-1 (1st)
  • 2013 CW playoffs: 4-1 (CW champions)
  • 2013 University Cup: 1-1
  • Last CW title: 2012-13
  • Last CIS title: 2007-08
  • CW ranking: #1

Key additions: T.J. Foster (F), Jamie Crooks (F), Luke Siemens (G)

Key returnees: Kurtis Mucha (G), Levko Koper (F), Jordan Hickmott (F), Kruise Reddick (F), Brett Ferguson (F), Colin Joe (D), Ian Barteaux (D), Sean Ringrose (F), Jesse Craige (D), Johnny Lazo (F), Ben Lindemulder (D)

Key departures: Greg Gardner and Real Cyr

EDMONTON – After winning the Canada West in 2013, but coming away empty handed at the CIS championship tournament, the University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team returns to the ice for the 2013-14 season with a mostly intact roster, and some solid additions.

The Bears, now entering their 101st season of competitive hockey, return a significant chunk of their 2012-13 roster, including the top two scoring lines and the top four defencemen. They will, however, miss team captain Greg Gardner and goalie Réal Cyr.

Alberta opens the 2013-14 season with five forwards (Rinrgose, Lazo, Reddick, Koper, and newcomer T.J. Foster) who had at least one 70+ point season in the WHL as well as four forwards (Koper, Lazo, Jamie Crooks, and Foster) with at least one 30-goal season. They also boast the reigning CIS Goalie of the Year in fourth-year Kurtis Mucha, and they return two CIS All-Canadians in Mucha and defenceman Jesse Craige, and five Canada West All-Stars (Mucha, Craige, Jordan Hickmott, Thomas Carr, and Johnny Lazo). Torrie Dyck, Rhett Rachinski, Travis Toomey, James Dobrowolski and Drew Nichol, round out Alberta’s riches up front. The blue line sees the return of fifth-years Ben Lindemulder, Ian Barteaux, and Colin Joe as well as third-year offensive defenceman Jordan Rowley.

The Bears added former Edmonton Oil King T.J. Foster to the line-up just days before their game against Saskatchewan, while Crooks, who previously played for the Victoria Royals, was added in the summer.

Alberta, seeking to replace Cyr’s workload in net, also recruited Luke Siemens to the program. Siemens, who is originally from Delta, B.C., spent four years in the WHL where he amassed a 77-48-14 record with the Everett Silvertips, Moose Jaw Warriors, and Prince Albert Raiders.

The regular season gets underway on October 4-5 when the Golden Bears travel to Winnipeg to take on the Manitoba Bisons for a two-games series.

http://www.bears.ualberta.ca/ 

UBC THUNDERBIRDS

  • 2012-13 conference record: 14-11-3 (5th)
  • 2013 CW playoffs: 1-2
  • Last CW title: 1970-71
  • Last CIS title: N/A
  • CW ranking: #5

Key additions: Luke Lockhart, Anthony Bardaro, Nick Buonassisi, Greg Fraser, Brandon Underwood, Matt Hewitt, Wes Vannieuwenhuizen

Key departures: Scott Wasden, Wyatt Hamilton, Max Grassi, Justin McCrae, Mike McGurk, Jordan White

VANCOUVER – Coming off a season in which they posted their best regular season record in over 20 years, the UBC Thunderbirds are looking to take the next step in 2013-14 and host a Canada West playoff game and be a conference contender.

Head coach Milan Dragicevic enters his 12th year at the helm and is excited about another impressive recruiting class. Helping to fill the void left by the likes of graduating players Scott Wasden, Wyatt Hamilton, Max Grassi, captain Justin McCrae, and two-time Second Team Canada West All-Star goaltender Jordan White, Dragicevic has brought in a number of offensively gifted forwards (Luke Lockhart, Anthony Bardaro), a pair of bruising defenders (Brandon Underwood, Wes Vannieuwenhuizen), and a bonafide number one goaltender (Matt Hewitt).

Hewitt, a three-year starter with the Regina Pats, will push Steven Stanford for the starters job. Look for CIS All-Rookie blueliner Neil Manning to lead the defensive corps, while the Canada West’s leading goal scorer, Cole Wilson, along with second year forward Brad Hoban will be key to the Thunderbirds offense.

http://www.gothunderbirds.ca/ 

CALGARY DINOS

  • 2012-13 conference record: 17-11-0 (4th)
  • 2013 CW playoffs: 2-3
  • Last CW title: 1996
  • Last CIS title: N/A
  • CW ranking: #3

Key additions: F Tyler Moir, D Dan Gibb, D Drydn Dow

Key returnees: F Taylor Stefishen, F Walker Wintoneak, F Kevin King, D Giffen Nyren

Key departures: F Brock Nixon, G Dustin Butler

CALGARY – There is a sense of optimism coming out of the locker room at the Father David Bauer Arena as a University of Calgary Dinos team filled with new faces gets set to begin the Canada West regular season.

Ten new players will find their way into a Dinos’ jersey this fall, making for a deeper roster then previous seasons. They will be challenged to improve on a 17-win season in 2012-13 that saw Calgary finish fourth in the standings. The Dinos seem more than ready to take that next step after an impressive two-game sweep of the Alberta Golden Bears to complete a 10-game exhibition schedule in September.

Gone from the team this year will be graduated players Dustin Butler, Ryan Gillen and former captain Brock Nixon. With more than enough bodies to fill out the line-up sheet, head coach Mark Howell should have more than enough line combinations to play around with in order to find what works best.

The Dinos find themselves deepest at the forward position with 15 skaters capable of playing up front. Injuries kept Calgary from playing everyone that would have liked to during the exhibition schedule, but with a good mix of experience and youth, the Dinos should be in good hands. Top scorers like Taylor Stefishen, Walker Wintoneak and Kevin King will be key to this upcoming year. A transfer from the University of Waterloo, Tyler Moir brings a solid track record to the Dinos and will be more than capable of putting the puck in the net. Calgary also welcomes six first-year forwards to the team this fall, all of which spent time in the Western Hockey League during their junior careers.

With three new bodies, the Dinos defence should have a new added dimension this fall. Calgary has typically be known for producing a strong skating and offensively talented blue line to compete on the big ice at Father David Bauer. Players like Kodie Curran, Giffen Nyren and Cory Pritz are all capable of registering numbers that rank among the top in Canada West. Towering defencemen Dan Gibb and Davis Vandane should help to balance out defence, while fellow rookie Drydn Dow will also be a welcomed addition, coming out of a successful Tri-City Americans’ program.

Even without former CIS goaltender of the year Butler, the Dinos are extremely confident with their netminding. Third-year Jacob DeSerres pushed Butler for playing time last season while posting some of the best numbers in the conference. In 13 games, the Calgary native earned eight wins along with a 1.98 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. Kris Lazaruk is back healthy following an injury-burdened year.

The Dinos will host their home opener on Oct. 11-12 as they welcome the UBC Thunderbirds to town.

http://www.godinos.com/ 

LETHBRIDGE PRONGHORNS

  • 2012-13 conference record: 2-22-4 (8th, missed playoffs)
  • Last CW title: 1993-94
  • Last CIS title: 1993-94
  • CW ranking: #8

Key additions: C Brock Hirsche, RW Mitchell Maxwell, LW Ryon Moser, D Corbin Karl, RW Guillaume Naud

Key returnees: F Dan Iwanski, F Brent Henke, D David McMullin, D Tim Campbell, G Damien Ketlo

Key departure: C Chase Schaber

LETHBRIDGE, AB – With one the youngest team in the conference last season, the Lethbridge Pronghorn men’s hockey team suffered through a difficult and injury plagued year, finishing at the bottom of the conference with a dismal 2-22-4 record.

The ‘Horns did not dress a full line up for a single game during the second half of the year due to numerous injuries and only had six players play in all 28 games.

While the ‘Horns will still not graduate a player after this season, they do have 15 players back from the 2012-13 campaign and will be a more experienced group.

After scoring a conference low 54 goals last season, head coach Greg Gatto hopes key additions to the forward ranks will pay dividends this season. Former Swift Current Bronco Ryon Moser, southern Alberta product Mitchell Maxwell, and MJHL MVP Guillaume Naud should bolster the ‘Horns attack. Moser had over 40 points in both of his final two seasons in the WHL, while Maxwell, who is coming of a two-year Church of Latter Day Saints mission, scored 29 goals for the Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2010.

Former QMJHL player, Naud finished his junior career in Manitoba with the Dauphin Kings, where he scored 32 goals and put up 88 points in 60 games.

On defence, David McMullen and Tim Campbell will look to build off solid freshmen campaigns and the addition of NCAA transfer Corbin Karl should bolster ‘Horns top two pairings.

Both Damien Ketlo and Dylan Tait return between the pipes, but the wild card for the ‘Horns this season could be the addition of Alex Sirard, who transfers from Selkirk College where he was named the BCIHL’s top goaltender and playoff MVP. Only time will tell if his play will transfer to the CIS level.

The ‘Horns open with a trip to Regina before hosting the front half of a home-and-home series with the Calgary Dinos October 18.

http://www.uleth.ca/horns/ 

MANITOBA BISONS

  • 2012-13 conference record: 17-7-4 (3rd)
  • 2013 CW playoffs: 3-2
  • Last CW title: 1964-65
  • Last CIS title: 1964-65
  • CW ranking: #4

Key additions: Aaron Lewadniuk, Taylor Dickin, Jordan DePape

Key returnees: Dane Crowley, Jeremy Schappert, Ian Duval, Joe Caligiuri, Darren Bestland, Travis Bobbee

Key departures: Blair Macaulay, Tyler Dittmer, Jesse Deckert, James Henry, Matthew Lowry, Del Cowan

WINNIPEG – After winning the Canada West conference regular season standings for the first time since the 1970-71 season during the 2011-12 season, Manitoba had another solid season in 2012-13 as they finished third and pushed Saskatchewan to three games on the road in the conference semi-final but did not advance to the University Cup.

Bison head coach Mike Sirant is in his 18th season and the goal is to remain as one of the elite teams in the conference and CIS but the Herd will have to do it without two-time conference MVP Blair Macaulay who leaves to play professional hockey and they lost numerous fifth year players plus conference rookie of the year James Henry.

But with the changes, there remains a solid veteran core that will continue to play hard-nose, physical and discipline hockey. Two-time team captain, numerous conference all-star and fifth year defenceman Dane Crowley returns as well as team second leading scorer from last season and fifth year Ian Duval along with fourth year defenceman and 2011-12 Canada West Defenceman of the Year and conference all-star Jeremy Schappert plus fourth year goalie Joe Caligiuri along with third year defencemen Darren Bestland and Travis Bobbee.

With the motivated veterans back in the mix, there are also several new faces. There are eight players playing their first season with Manitoba on the 24 person roster for 2013-14. The new players have added depth at all three areas of goaltender, defence and forward. Newcomers who expect to make an impact include forward Aaron Lewadniuk who was a red-shirt with Manitoba during the 2012-13 season after playing with the two different teams in East Coast Hockey League in 2011-12; forward Taylor Dickin who was a red-shirt with Manitoba during the 2012-13 season after playing two seasons (2010-11, 2011-12) at the University of North Dakota and forward Jordan DePape finished his four year WHL career with the Red Deer Rebels in 2012-13.

http://www.gobisons.ca/ 

MOUNT ROYAL COUGARS

  • 2012-13 conference record: 7-19-2 (7th, missed playoffs)
  • Last CW title: N/A
  • Last CIS title: N/A
  • CW ranking: #7

Key additions: Tyler Fiddler, Cody Cartier, Kris Moore

Key returnees: Eric Galbraith, Kevin Knopp, Mike Brown, Tyler Jewitt

Key departures: Jeff Barrett, Spencer Asuchak

CALGARY – The Mount Royal Cougars look to make a big splash this season in their sophomore season in Canada West. Last season the Cougars finished in seventh place but played much better than their record indicated. The Cougars battled their crosstown rivals from Calgary hard last season and even beat them on the biggest stage during the Crowchild Classic at the Saddledome.

Returning this season for the Cougars will be two of their team’s biggest leader in Captain Kevin Knopp and the league’s second leading goal scorer Eric Galbraith. Both fifth year players will play a key role for the Cougars who are looking to make their first playoff bid since joining Canada West.

Last season Galbraith scored 16 goals good enough for second place in all of Canada West and tops on the team. He also led the team in points with 27. The Cougars will also be returning Tyler Jewitt who was second on the squad with 23 points just a few shy of Galbraith.

The Cougars have added some more scoring touch as they have landed Tyler Fiddler, a transfer from the University of Calgary. Fiddler scored 10 goals in only 16 games last season and still finished in the top 20 in league scoring. The Cougars will be welcoming two players from south of the border as forward Cody Cartier and Kris Moore both left the NCAA to join the Cougars this season.

Behind the bench the Cougars will have a new look as Jean Laforest will be flanked by two new assistant coaches. Bobby Fox and Ben McGinn will look to guide their young upstart team.

Last season the Cougars played in a lot of close games but could not convert them into victories. If a few games swing the other way this season the Cougars will likely make their first playoff appearance.

http://www.mrucougars.com/index.aspx 

REGINA COUGARS

  • 2012-13 conference record: 13-12-3 (6th, missed playoffs)
  • Last CW title: N/A
  • Last CIS title: N/A
  • CW ranking: #6

Key additions: F Cody Fowlie, F Christian Magnus, D Brody Luhning

Key returnees: G Lucas Gore, G Andrew Hayes, F Tyler Henry, F Troy Hunter, D John Sonntag

Key departure: D Russ Nielsen

REGINA – After guiding the Cougars to a 13-12-3 conference record and their first playoff appearance since the 2009 season, second-year head coach Todd Johnson expects the team to continue its progress heading into this year.

Rookie Cody Fowlie is already making an impression, and Johnson expects he will team up with third-year players Troy Hunter and Tyler Henry to form the top line. Heading into his final year of CIS eligibility, team captain Craig Cuthbert will most likely join Brock Appleyard and newcomer Christian Magnus on the No. 2 line. Magnus looks to be another strong addition, finishing with 36 points in 50 games last year with the Melville Millionaires (SJHL), while also scoring four goals in the post-season.

The Cougars have retained their strong goaltending, with both Lucas Gore and Andrew Hayes returning to the team. Last season the pair split the duties between the pipes, with Gore finishing third in the league with a .918 save percentage.

As for the blue line, there are plenty of new faces. Steven Turner, Austin Bourhis, Brody Luhning, and John Neibrandt will all be suiting up for the Cougars this season. Lunhing is coming off three strong seasons with the Battlefords North Stars which saw him finish in the top three in league scoring among defencemen in each of his last two seasons.

Johnson expects the team to battle hard for a home playoff game in the spring, despite periods of inconsistent play during the preseason. The Cougars are already fighting the injury bug, with three players currently sidelined with upper-body injuries.

Regina open its Canada West schedule at home this weekend with a pair of games against Calgary. The Cougars and Dinos will face off at 7 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday night at The Co-operators Centre.

http://www.reginacougars.com/ 

SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES

  • 2012-13 conference record: 19-8-1 (2nd)
  • 2013 CW playoffs: 3-3 (CW 2nd)
  • 2013 University Cup: 0-2
  • Last CW title: 2011-12
  • Last CIS title: 1982-83
  • CW ranking: #2

Key additions: Ryan McDonald, Charles Inglis

Key returnees: Brennan Bosch, Andrew Bailey, Ryan Holfeld, Derek Hulak

Key departures: Kyle Bortis, Chris Durand, Michael Kaye

SASKATOON – Entering the 2013-14 season as hosts of the University Cup, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies know they are in the CIS championship. However, the Huskies expect to be a top contender once again for the Canada West crown and earn their spot in the University Cup.

Saskatchewan finished second in the conference standings with a 19-8-1 record in 2012-13 and lost in three games in the Canada West final to the Alberta Golden Bears. As hosts of the University Cup, Saskatchewan went 0-2 at the tournament after a loss to the UQTR Patriotes and a one-goal loss to the eventual champion UNB Varsity Reds.

The 2013-14 Huskies are full of experience with four fifth-year athletes and seven fourth-year players adorning the roster. Included in the group is captain Brennan Bosch, former conference all-star Andrew Bailey, former All-Canadian and scoring champion Derek Hulak, goaltender Ryan Holfeld and defencemen Cody Hobbs and Brett Ward.

Bosch led the Huskies with 13 goals in 2012-13 and scored a hat trick including the game winner in overtime to push the Canada West final to three games. A year removed from leading the conference in scoring, Hulak tallied eight goals and 17 assists in just 20 games. Bailey also provided big offence with nine goals and 12 assists.

Hoping to bolster the offence, the Huskies have added CIS-transfer Ryan McDonald. McDonald, a former Regina Pat and Prince Albert Raider, played three seasons in the CIS with the Lakehead Thunderwolves tallying 32 goals and 27 assists.

Defensively, Saskatchewan lost just one player on the blue line. Anchored by Hobbs, Ward and fourth-year 2011-12 all-star Matthew Delahey, the defence is the Huskies’ strength.

Holfeld will start in net for the Huskies the majority of the time. The fourth-year recorded a .905 save percentage and a 2.74 goals against average in his 27 games last year. Blake Voth and Matthew Smidt will back him up.

Other new additions include Charles Inglis (Red Deer Rebels), Kendall McFaull (Moose Jaw Warriors), Connor Cox (Everett Silvertips), Josh Roach (Prince George Cougars), Sean Aschim (Melville Millionaires) and John Lawrence (Humboldt Broncos).

The Huskies open their season on the road in Calgary against Mount Royal on October 4 and return home for the first time on October 18 against Alberta.

2014 University Cup: http://huskies.usask.ca/universitycup/ 

http://huskies.usask.ca/ 

Canada West Annual Publication: www.azbycx1928.com/cw78hjfdbje/ 

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