Women’s Basketball: A+
The women’s basketball team hit the court ready to play and their hard work paid off. Heading into the break the Dogs held the top spot in the Prairie Division and a top five Canadian Interuniversity Sport ranking.
The Huskies lost only one game during the first half of the season — a 52-73 loss to the University of Regina Cougars. The defeat broke the Huskies’ four game undefeated streak, but they quickly got back on the winning track and, having not dropped another game since, are currently riding a five game winning streak.
Routinely putting up more than 70 points a night while allowing less than 60, the Huskies have been expertly combining offence and defence to keep their opponents off balance.
As one of the top scoring teams in the country, it will be difficult for any team to knock the Dogs off their pedestal. But, the Huskies will need to keep their shots rolling as they face tougher opponents.
In their only loss of the season the Huskies shot 28 per cent, well below their average of 46.1. If these women can maintain their accuracy, it will be a tough ask for any team to out play them.
The Huskies will face stiff competition when they return to the court on January 10. The Dogs travel to British Columbia to face the University of Victoria Vikes and the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. The two teams are tied for first place in the Pacific Division of Canada West and are sure to push the Dogs.
It doesn’t get any easier after the first series, as the Huskies stay on the road to face the University of Calgary Dinos. The Dinos sit in a hotly contested three-way tie for second place in the Prairie Division alongside the Regina Cougars and the University of Alberta Pandas. The Dogs will hope to maintain their dominance when they clash with the Dinos and the Pandas for the first time later this year.
Dalyce Emmerson has been at the helm of the Huskies’ offence, scoring an average of 20.5 points per games, the fourth highest in the league, and recording four double-doubles. Through the first ten games Emmerson netted a total of 205 points.
Fifth-year Kiera Lyons has been making a big impact in her final year with the team, averaging 12.8 points per game for 102 overall. Kabree Howard added another 93 points to the scoreboard and Desarae Hogberg contributed 71.
With four teams advancing to the playoffs, the Huskies are in a very good position make it into the post-season to battle for the Canada West banner.
[/column][column size=one_half position=last ]
Men’s basketball: A
Hot off a second place finish in the 38th Tom Byron Classic held in Santa Barbara, Calif., the Huskies men’s basketball team is revved up for the second half of their season.
Before the break the Dogs accumulated a 9-1 record and were tied for first place in the Prairie Division with the University of Alberta Golden Bears. They will no doubt be looking to see the Golden Bears off and take the top spot for themselves.
The Huskies’ sole loss this season came during a down-to-the-wire contest against the Trinity Western University Spartans. With less than a minute left in the game, the Spartans came up with clutch shots to steal the win and hand the Huskies their first and only defeat.
Their first game back on Jan. 10 against the University of Victoria Vikes will be a tough matchup for the Dogs. The Vikes are the top ranked team in the Pacific Division of Canada West with an identical 9-1 record. The game will be the first and only meeting between the two squads for the regular season.
With 12 games remaining, there’s still a lot of ball left to play and a chance for teams to move around quite a bit in the standings. The biggest battle will likely be between the Huskies and the Golden Bears, who end their seasons with a two game series in Alberta.
The Huskies are in a good position to advance into the post-season. The top four teams in the Prairie and Pacific divisions advance to the Canada West play-offs and, barring a major slip in play, the Huskies should easily advance.
Thanks to stellar defence the Dogs have held their opponents to less than 70 points four times and have outscored teams by more than 30. Very few of the games the Huskies have played have been hotly contested, with the Dogs routinely outpacing their opponents from tip off until the final whistle blows.
The Dogs have been incredibly sharp on offence this season — their 875 points is the second highest scoring tally in the country.
Stephon Lamar has been a force, scoring 201 points in 10 games. Dadrian Collins and Matt Forbes are the next biggest scorers with 153 and 127 points respectively. Ben Baker has been strong off the boards, grabbing 107 rebounds. Forbes also has 90 rebounds of his own.
The Huskies finished last season as the number one ranked team in the Prairie Division, with a 16-6 record, but failed to advance past the quarter-final stage of the Canada West Championship, falling 1-3 to the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades in crossover play. The Dogs have the talent to go even further in the tournament and should aim to compete at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Championship.
[/column][divider]Volleyball[/divider][column size=one_half position=first]
Women’s Volleyball: C+
After a hot start to the season the women’s volleyball team has cooled down considerably.
The team opened with two wins for the first time since the 1998-99 season, but struggled after the strong start, going on a six game losing streak where they only managed to win two sets. The Dogs found some form heading into the break, winning three of their last four to earn a 5-7 record.
The Huskies have a good chance to pick up some wins in the second half of the season. with three of the five teams they’ll face ranked below them. When the Dogs return to the court on Jan. 10, their first challenge will be the University of Winnipeg Wesmen, the ninth ranked team in the division.
Things don’t get much more difficult until Jan. 31, when the Huskies face the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds — the current Canadian Interuniversity Sport champions. The matchup will offer the team a chance to see just how they fare against one of the best teams in the country.
If the Huskies can stay ahead of the lower ranked teams they’ll have a good chance of making it into the playoffs — something they haven’t been able to do in a long time.
The past few seasons have been focused on improving the team’s record and, since Jason Grieve took over the position of head coach in 2011, the squad has been moving in the right direction. When he started the Huskies had a .153 win percentage, which has improved to .417 this season.
The Dogs have already assured they’ll finish with a better record than the 2012-13 season— an abysmal 3-19 finish— and making it into the post-season would be a big accomplishment for the team.
Captain Candace Hueser is leading the team in kills with 102 while Kayla Tycholiz is right behind her with 101. Jennifer Hueser has recorded 132 digs and Anne Hanbidge has 91.
Moving forward the Huskies will have to stay in the top seven if they want to realize their playoff dreams. If the Dogs can rediscover the form they had opening the season, they just may see it happen.
[/column][column size=one_half position=last]
Men’s Volleyball: C
Fighting their way back into matches only to stumble at the finish line won’t be enough if the Huskies want to challenge the top teams in the league — they’ll have to start playing the big points well.
After a disappointing opening half to the season saw the squad fall to tenth in the Canada West Division and post a 4-8 record, the men’s volleyball team is looking to rebound.
The Huskies have had their fair share of chances in matches but have routinely been unable to capitalize. Six of the 12 matches the Dogs have played have gone to a deciding fifth set, but they have emerged victorious only twice.
The team has already gotten some games under their belt after hosting the Enns Baxter Wealth Management Invitational on Jan. 2-4. The Huskies won the tournament without dropping a match, going 3-0 in round robin play and defeating the fifth ranked University of Brandon Bobcats 3-1 in the final.
The wins won’t improve the Huskies’ record in league play, but winning four straight matches means they have much needed confidence under their belt.
The University of Regina Cougars and the University of Sherbrooke Vert et Or also competed in the event.
Holding an identical 2-4 record at home and away, home court advantage hasn’t meant much so far. The team will look to change that when they return to conference play on Jan. 10 to host the eighth ranked University of Winnipeg Wesmen for a two game series.
The final ten games of the season will give the Huskies a good chance to pick up some wins. The toughest challenge will be the number two ranked University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, but with every other team ranked outside the top five, the Huskies should pose a challenge.
The Huskies roster is not lacking in talent. Bryan Fraser, Paul Thomson and Jordan Nowakowski have recorded upwards of 130 kills so far, putting all three within the top 20 in the country. Fraser has also recorded 105 digs.
The Dogs have the ability to end points in their favour but they also make their fare share of errors. With 256 on the season, the team sits fifth in a category you don’t want to be leading in. Cleaning up their game could pay dividends for the team.
With seven teams advancing to playoffs, the Dogs have some ground to make up, but after advancing to the postseason last year for the first time since the 2004-05 season they will no doubt be eager to make it back.[/column] [divider]Hockey[/divider][column size=one_half position=first]
Women’s Hockey: B+
The women’s hockey team had a solid start to the season, including a four game winning streak that moved them into second place in Canada West with an 11-3-2 record.
The Huskies returned to the ice on Jan. 3 and 4 to face the University of Manitoba Bisons, where they suffered a 1-2 and a 3-2 loss. Following the defeats the team is now tied with the University of Alberta Pandas.
The Huskies will battle the Alberta Pandas for second place on Jan. 10 and 11. The two teams met earlier in the season, with the Pandas taking the first game 2-1 while the Huskies won the second 3-2.
The Dogs and the Pandas aren’t the only two teams fighting for dominance, as the top four teams in the division are all within five points of each other.
Depending on how the Huskies fare in the next few weeks they have a chance to overtake the top ranked University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, who only hold a four point lead. The Dogs will also finish the regular season with two matches against the Thunderbirds on home ice, which may determine their season ending rank as well as seeding for the playoffs.
The Dogs boast a near perfect 7-1 record on home ice, the lone loss coming against the University of Mount Royal Cougars during the second game of the season. With a losing 4-6 record away, it bodes well for the team that six of the 10 remaining games will take place at home.
Cami Wooster leads the team in scoring with 10 goals and 10 assists, making her the second highest scorer in the division. Sara Greschner and Kaitlin Willoughby have each contributed ten goals to the Dogs’ offence.
Both of the Huskies’ goalies have been performing well. Cassidy Hendricks boasts a .928 save percentage through 12 games while Karen Lefsrud is .944 through seven.
Finishing in fifth place last season before falling to the Alberta Pandas in the quarter-final round, the Huskies will look to make it back into the postseason and go one step further.
Given the way the Huskies have played so far, it’s hard to not see them making it into the playoffs. The trouble will come when they have to face the Pandas or Thunderbirds, who have proven to be tricky opponents.[/column][column size=one_half position=last]
Men’s Hockey: B
After an up-and-down first half of the season, the men won their last two games to head into the break with a 8-7-1 record and grab third spot in the Canada West Division. The team came back to the ice strong, sneaking out two games against the fifth ranked University of Manitoba Bisons.
The Huskies defeated the Bisons 5-4 in overtime on Jan. 3 and 3-2 on Jan. 4. With some solid momentum and a four game winning streak behind them, the second half of the season could see a much more formidable Huskies team.
In the coming months it’s unlikely the Dogs will be able to overtake the number one and two teams — the University of Calgary Dinos and the University of Alberta Pandas, who are 15-0-1 and 14-2-0 respectively — and will instead be looking to stave off their lower ranked rivals, namely the University of Regina Cougars.
The Huskies suit up to battle the Alberta Pandas on Jan. 10 and 11 in Edmonton, a good test to see how the Dogs match up with one of the best teams in the division and the number two ranked team in the country. Earlier this season the Huskies lost to the Pandas 2-3 and 2-4. Picking up a win on the road against a strong opponent could give the team some much needed confidence heading into the final month of the season.
Home ice has favoured the Dogs, with the team going 8-3 at home and only 2-5 away. With the Huskies only hosting three of the final 10 games, they will need to improve their record on unfamiliar ice if they want to continue adding to the win column.
Kenton Dulle and Ryan McDonald have each netted seven goals to lead the Huskies in scoring while Derek Hulak leads overall points with six goals and 22 assists. The twenty-eight points puts Hulak third in the league.
Ryan Holfeld has been tough in net with a .919 save percentage making 477 saves, the most in the league. Holfeld also has three shutouts to his name.
Some of the pressure is off since the Huskies are guaranteed a spot in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship thanks to their hosting gig, but the Dogs will need to use their time on the ice to prepare to face the toughest teams in the country come playoff time.
The Huskies hosted the tournament last year and failed to win a match in the round-robin stage, going 0-2. This year the Dogs will no doubt be looking for some retribution and to hoist the University Cup in front of a home crowd.[/column]