PREVIEW 2014 Scotiabank CIS women’s hockey championship: Carabins looking to repeat in Fredericton

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Photo credit James Hajjar

OTTAWA (CIS) – The University of Montreal Carabins hope torepeat as CIS women’s hockey champions this weekend inFredericton and, just like a year ago when they captured theirfirst-ever banner in only their fourth season in the league, theyare the No. 1 seed heading into the national tournament.

The Scotiabank CIS championship, hosted for the first time bySt.

Thomas University, gets under way on Thursday and culminates onSunday at 6:30 p.m. Atlantic Time with the gold-medal final, liveon Sportsnet 360. All nine games from the six-team competition willalso be webcast live on www.CIS-SIC.tv.

A year removed from their triumph in Toronto, the Carabins willbattle a completely revamped field this week as none of the teamsset to take the ice at the Grant Harvey Centre had qualified forthe 2013 tourney.

Joining the RSEQ champions in Fredericton are the second-seededWilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (OUA champs), No. 3 Moncton AiglesBleues (AUS champs), No. 4 Saskatchewan Huskies (Canada Westchamps), No. 5 McGill Martlets (RSEQ finalists), as well as thehost St. Thomas Tommies, ranked sixth.

McGill and Laurier are perennial contenders who missed thechampionship last year for the first time in 11 and 10 campaigns,respectively. The same can’t be said about Moncton,Saskatchewan and St. Thomas, who are set to make their third,second and first appearances at the event.

In the round-robin portion of the 2014 tourney, Montreal,Saskatchewan and St. Thomas will skate in Pool A, while Laurier,Moncton and McGill battle in Group B. On Thursday, the Hawks andMartlets square off in the opener at 2 p.m. AT and the Carabinskick off their title defence against the Huskies at 7 p.m.

The Carabins have been a remarkable story since joining the CISwomen’s hockey circuit in 2009-2010. After qualifying for thenational championship in their inaugural season, they reached theCIS final for the first time in Year 3, dropping a 5-1 gold-medaldecision to a star-studded Calgary squad led by HayleyWickenheiser, before avenging that loss last winter with a 3-2 winover the Dinos in the title match.

This season, the Carabins picked up right where they left offand went 17-3 in conference play, losing only to powerhouse McGill.After finishing one game back of the Martlets in the RSEQstandings, Montreal had the last laugh in the best-of-three leaguefinal, winning in three games to claim its second straight Quebecbanner and tie the overall season series at 4-4.

Boasting the top offence in the country with an average of 4.65goals per contest in league play, the reigning champs are ledAriane Barker (17-15-32 in 19 GP) and team captain KimDeschênes (13-17-30 in 20 GP), who captained the Canadiansquad to a gold medal at the Winter Universiade in Italy, lastDecember. Deschênes was also named MVP of last year’sCIS championship.

“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished so farthis season. Now that we’ve made it back to the nationalchampionship, our goal is to return to the final,” says headcoach Isabelle Leclaire, who was an assistant coach at the TrentinoUniversiade. We don’t feel any pressure. We’ve been inthis situation before. The difference is, this time around, we haveexperience on our side and with that comes confidence.

“Even though we’re seeded No. 1, once you’reon the ice, it means nothing. We saw it last year. We won ouropener 1-0 in overtime against host Toronto, finally scoring on our54th shot. Two years ago, we were seeded sixth and we beat thetop-ranked team in our first game.”

One thing that can be said about Montreal’s first opponenton Thursday night, Saskatchewan, is that they are battle testedheading into their first CIS championship appearance since 2004– and the second in program history.

After finishing second in Canada West in league play with asolid 18-4-6 mark, the Huskies were pushed to the limit of threegames in both their playoff series, by UBC in the semis and Reginain the conference final. All three contests in the final requiredat least two overtime periods, with Game 2 – a 2-1 Huskiesloss – decided in the fourth extra frame.

“We are fortunate and excited to be the Canada Westrepresentative at the CIS championship,” says head coachSteve Kook. “The tight battles we had to earn the berth are areal testament to the overall strength of our conference thisseason. We are a young team with only one player having competed ina national championship before, so we are very excited at theopportunity to compete against the best teams in university hockeyin Canada.

“Our success has come as a result of our team play anddepth on our roster. Continued outstanding goaltending and a highlevel of a will to compete will be critical to our success at thechampionship.”

Rounding out the Pool A roster, St. Thomas ended the regularseason on a high note, winning five of its last six games, beforebeing eliminated in two straight by Mount Allison in the firstround of the playoffs.

In their first-ever appearance at the CIS tournament, theTommies hope to get solid goaltending from fifth-year seniorKristin Wolfe, who was named a first-team AUS all-star after sheposted a 2.04 goals against average and a .929 save percentageduring the regular schedule.

“We are tremendously proud to be competing at thenationals. Excitement has grown around the team and the communityand now it culminates with what will be the biggest women’shockey event in New Brunswick’s history,” says headcoach Peter Murphy. “Our focus will be to represent both St.Thomas and the community to the best of our ability. We know theplayers will bring their game to a new level under this high levelcompetition.”

In Pool B, while McGill is the lowest seed at No. 5, many stillconsider the Martlets as the favourites to advance out of thegroup.

After all, the Martlets topped 13 of 16 weekly national pollsthis season and enter the championship with a 26-4 overall recordversus CIS competition, with all four losses coming againsttop-seeded Montreal. McGill’s overall mark includesnon-conference wins over both their Group B opponents, a 5-3 homevictory against Laurier back on Sept. 21 and a 9-0 domination ofMoncton on Dec. 27, also on home ice.

Despite the loss of last year’s CIS most outstandingplayer, Mélodie Daoust, who spent the season withCanada’s Olympic team, the 2013-14 edition of the Martletsstill has plenty of firepower and was the second-most potentoffensive unit in the country in league play (4.00 gpg) thanks tothe likes of Katia Clément-Heydra, who won the RSEQ scoringcrown with 40 points (13-27-40) in 20 games, as well as GabrielleDavidson, who set a conference record with 28 goals in 20 contests,one shy of the single-season CIS mark.

Davidson and Clément-Heydra were two of Canada’sbrightest stars at the Trentino Universiade last December,finishing 1-2 in tournament scoring with 22 and 18 points in onlyseven contests, respectively.

“Being seeded fifth is what I expected, so let’s get‘er going,” says 14-year bench boss Peter Smith, whohas led his program to three national titles and 11 podium finishes(3-3-5) in 13 previous appearances at the CIS championship,including back-to-back gold-medal triumphs over Laurier in 2008 and2009. “We’re not going to look ahead to a possiblerematch against the Carabins. We’ve got two worthy opponentsin our pool (Laurier and Moncton), so all our focus right now is onour first game versus Laurier. We’ve played them a lot overthe years and won in our only meeting earlier this year.They’re always good and it will be a match-up of two teamsthat like to play hard against each other.”

Like Saskatchewan in Canada West, Laurier was pushed to thelimit of three games in both the OUA semis and final, by Torontoand Queen’s. In the pre-season, in addition to their 5-3 lossto McGill, the Golden Hawks had a pair of classic battles againsttop-seeded Montreal, winning 3-2 in a shootout on the road (Sept.20) and dropping a 5-4 OT decision in Kingston (Sept. 28).

The Hawks are the second-most decorated team at thisyear’s tournament with six CIS medals (1-4-1) in 10 previousappearances, including their lone title in 2005. This season, LauraBrooker, a member of the gold medal-winning Universiade team, pacedLaurier’s fifth-ranked offence with 26 points (12-14-26) in24 games.

“Our team is a hard working group that has a balancedattack with contributions coming from all lines as well as someoffensively minded players on the blueline,” says RickOsborne, in his 11th campaign at the helm. “This, combinedwith strong team defence and outstanding goaltending, has uslooking forward to a competitive and enjoyable experience atnationals.”

Third-seeded Moncton turned things around in the new year aftera slow start to the season. The Aigles Bleues showed a subpar 4-9conference record at the December break but won 10 of 11 leaguegames in January and February to finish third in the AUS standings.They continued to roll in the playoffs with six victories in eightcontests, including a 2-0 whitewash against Mount Allison in thethird and deciding game of the league final.

Rookie netminder Gabrielle Forget emerged as a star in the latestages of the regular season and posted a 1.58 goals againstaverage and a .931 save percentage in her university debut. Shemade 27 save to earn the shutout in the last game of the AUSchampionship series.

“We’re looking forward to the CISchampionship,” says head coach Denis Ross, who guided Monctonto its lone CIS medal in 2009 thanks to a third-place finish.“We’ve been on a roll for the past two months and ourgoal is to play our best hockey this week. We had three toughplayoff series, which prepared us well for thischampionship.”

TEAMPROFILES

No. 1 Montreal Carabins

Media Guide (PDF 3.58 MB)

Head Coach: Isabelle Leclaire (5th season)
Regular season record: 17-3-0
Regular season standing: 2nd RSEQ
Playoff record: 4-1
Playoff finish: RSEQ champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 23-6
Overall record vs. CIS championship teams: 5-5 (4-4 vs. McG, 1-1WLU)
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 18): No. 1
Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (3 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (16 polls): 16
Conference award winners: None
Conference 1st team all-stars: Élodie Rousseau-Sirois (G),Elizabeth Mantha (D), Ariane Barker (F)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Janique Duval (D), KimDeschênes (F), Marion Allemoz (F)
Conference all-rookie team: Marie-Pier Chabot (G), RikaPilon-Robert (F)
Season leaders (points): Ariane Barker (19 GP: 17-15-32), KimDeschênes (20 GP: 13-17-30)
Season leader (goals): Ariane Barker, 17 (19 GP)
Season leader (assists): Maude Gélinas, 18 (20 GP)
Season leader (No. 1 goalie): Élodie Rousseau-Sirois (14 GP,11-3, 2.00 GAA, .934 SV%)
Team national ranking (offence): 1st (4.65)
Team national ranking (defence): 10th (1.85)
CIS championship appearances: 4th
CIS championship all-time record: 6-3 (.666)
CIS championship all-time medals: 2 (1-1-0)
CIS championship best result: 1-time champions (2013)
CIS championship last appearance: 2013 (champions)
CIS championship sequence: 3rd straight appearance (4th in 5-yearhistory)

No. 2 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks

Media Guide (PDF 2.83 MB)

Head Coach: Rick Osborne (11th season)
Regular season record: 18-3-3
Regular season standing: 2nd OUA
Playoff record: 6-2
Playoff finish: OUA champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 31-11
Overall record vs. CIS championship teams: 1-2 (1-1 vs. MTL, 0-1McG)
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 18): No. 4
Top 10 best ranking: No. 2 (1 week)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (16 polls): 16
Conference award winners: None
Conference 1st team all-stars: Candice Styles (D)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Laura Brooker (F)
Conference all-rookie team: None
Season leaders (points): Laura Brooker (24 GP: 12-14-26), TammyFreiburger (24 GP: 13-10-23)
Season leader (goals): Tammy Freiburger, 13 (24 GP)
Season leader (assists): Megan Howe, 15 (23 GP)
Season leader (No. 1 goalie): Amanda Smith (16 GP, 11-4, 1.63 GAA,.936 SV%)
Team national ranking (offence): 5th (3.50)
Team national ranking (defence): 8th (1.76)
CIS championship appearances: 11th
CIS championship all-time record: 19-14 (.576)
CIS championship all-time medals: 6 (1-4-1)
CIS championship best result: 1-time champions (2005)
CIS championship last appearance: 2012 (4th place)
CIS championship sequence: Return after 1-year absence (10thappearance in 11 years)

No. 3 Moncton Aigles Bleues

Media Guide (PDF 1.53 MB)

Head Coach: Denis Ross (7th season)
Regular season record: 14-9-1
Regular season standing: 3rd AUS
Playoff record: 6-2
Playoff finish: AUS champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 23-16
Overall record vs. CIS championship teams: 4-2 (0-1 vs. McG, 4-1STU)
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 18): Unranked
Top 10 best ranking: Unranked all season
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (16 polls): 0
Conference award winners: Denis Ross (coach)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Marie-Pier Arsenault (F)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Gabrielle Forget (G)
Conference all-rookie team: Gabrielle Forget (G)
Season leaders (points): Marie-Pier Arsenault (24 GP: 10-9-19),Karine Roy (24 GP: 7-5-12)
Season leader (goals): Marie-Pier Arsenault, 10 (24 GP)
Season leader (assists): Marie-Pier Arsenault, 9 (24 GP)
Season leader (No. 1 goalie): Gabrielle Forget (15 GP, 9-5, 1.58GAA, .931 SV%)
Team national ranking (offence): T18th (2.25)
Team national ranking (defence): 5th (1.64)
CIS championship appearances: 3rd
CIS championship all-time record: 3-3 (.500)
CIS championship all-time medals: 1 (0-0-1)
CIS championship best result: Bronze (2009)
CIS championship last appearance: 2009 (bronze)
CIS championship sequence: Return after 4-year absence

No. 4 Saskatchewan Huskies

Media Guide (PDF 8.59 MB)

Head Coach: Steve Kook (9th season)
Regular season record: 18-4-6
Regular season standing: 2nd Canada West
Playoff record: 4-2
Playoff finish: Canada West champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 24-12
Overall record vs. CIS championship teams: 0-0
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 18): No. 10
Top 10 best ranking: No. 8 (5 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (16 polls): 13
Conference award winners: Kaitlin Willoughby (rookie), Steve Kook(coach)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Cami Wooster (F)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Cassidy Hendricks (G), Julia Flinton(D)
Conference all-rookie team: Karen Lefsrud (G), Kaitlin Willoughby(F)
Season leaders (points): Cami Wooster (28 GP: 15-16-31), KaitlinWilloughby (28 GP: 11-14-25)
Season leader (goals): Cami Wooster, 15 (28 GP)
Season leader (assists): Cami Wooster, 16 (28 GP)
Season leader (No. 1 goalie): Cassidy Hendricks (18 GP, 11-7, 1.77GAA, .924 SV%)
Team national ranking (offence): 15th (2.50)
Team national ranking (defence): 6th (1.64)
CIS championship appearances: 2nd
CIS championship all-time record: 1-2 (.333)
CIS championship all-time medals: 0
CIS championship best result: 4th place (2004)
CIS championship last appearance: 2004 (4th place)
CIS championship sequence: Return after 9-year absence

No. 5 McGill Martlets

Head Coach: Peter Smith (14th season)
Regular season record: 18-2-0
Regular season standing: 1st RSEQ
Playoff record: 3-2
Playoff finish: RSEQ finalists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 26-4
Overall record vs. CIS championship teams: 6-4 (4-4 vs. MTL, 1-0WLU, 1-0 MCT)
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 18): No. 2
Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (13 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (16 polls): 16
Conference award winners: Katia Clément-Heydra (MVP), PeterSmith (coach)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Katia Clément-Heydra (F),Gabrielle Davidson (F)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Andrea Weckman (G), BrittneyFouracres (D), Leslie Oles (F)
Conference all-rookie team: None
Season leaders (points): Katia Clément-Heydra (20 GP:13-27-40), Gabrielle Davidson (20 GP: 28-6-34)
Season leader (goals): Gabrielle Davidson, 28 (20 GP)
Season leader (assists): Katia Clément-Heydra, 27 (20GP)
Season leader (No. 1 goalie): Andrea Weckman (12 GP, 11-1, 1.25GAA, .922 SV%)
Team national ranking (offence): 2nd (4.00)
Team national ranking (defence): 4th (1.60)
CIS championship appearances: 14th
CIS championship all-time record: 27-12 (.692)
CIS championship all-time medals: 11 (3-3-5)
CIS championship best result: 3-time champions (2011, 2009,2008)
CIS championship last appearance: 2012 (bronze)
CIS championship sequence: Return after 1-year absence (11thappearance in 12 years)

No. 6 St. Thomas Tommies

Head Coach: Peter Murphy (11th season)
Regular season record: 12-7-5
Regular season standing: 4th AUS
Playoff record: 0-2
Playoff finish: Lost in AUS quarter-finals
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 15-14
Overall record vs. CIS championship teams: 1-4 vs. MCT
Top 10 final ranking (Feb. 18): Unranked
Top 10 best ranking: Unranked all season
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (16 polls): 0
Conference award winners: None
Conference 1st team all-stars: Kristin Wolfe (G)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Katie Brewster (F)
Conference all-rookie team: None
Season leaders (points): Katie Brewster (21 GP: 10-7-17), KeltyApperson (24 GP: 8-9-17)
Season leader (goals): Katie Brewster, 10 (21 GP)
Season leader (assists): Myfanwy Thomson, 10 (24 GP)
Season leader (No. 1 goalie): Kristin Wolfe (20 GP, 10-10, 2.04GAA, .929 SV%)
Team national ranking (offence): T18th (2.25)
Team national ranking (defence): 12th (2.00)
CIS championship appearances: 1st
CIS championship all-time record: 0-0
CIS championship all-time medals: 0
CIS championship best result: First appearance
CIS championship last appearance: First appearance
CIS championship sequence: First appearance

CHAMPIONSHIPSCHEDULE (all times ATLANTIC TIME)

Wednesday, March 12
19:00 All-Canadian Banquet (Fredericton Inn – BicentennialBallroom)

Thursday, March 13
14:00 Pool B #1: No. 5 McGill vs. No. 2 Wilfrid Laurier(www.CIS-SIC.tv)
19:00 Pool A #1: No. 4 Saskatchewan vs. No. 1 Montreal (www.CIS-SIC.tv)

Friday, March 14
14:00 Pool B #2: Loser Pool B #1 vs. No. 3 Moncton (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
19:00 Pool A #2: Loser Pool A #1 vs. No. 6 St. Thomas (www.CIS-SIC.tv)

Saturday, March 15
14:00 Pool B #3: Winner Pool B #1 vs. No. 3 Moncton (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
19:00 Pool A #3: Winner Pool A #1 vs. No. 6 St. Thomas (www.CIS-SIC.tv)

Sunday, March 16
10:00 5th Place (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
14:00 Bronze (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
18:30 Final (Sportsnet 360 & www.CIS-SIC.tv)

* The webcast of the championship final will be on pay-per-viewbasis.

About Canadian Interuniversity Sport

Canadian Interuniversity Sport is the national governing body ofuniversity sport in Canada. Every year, 11,000 student-athletes and700 coaches from 55 universities and four regional associations viefor 21 national championships in 12 different sports. CIS alsoprovides high performance international opportunities for Canadianstudent-athletes at Winter and Summer Universiades, as well asnumerous world university championships. For further information,visit www.cis-sic.ca or followus on:

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CIS_SIC
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cissports
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/universitysport

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