January has seen many exciting match-ups and the race to the NRL Championship in Saskatoon is tight. Here’s our round-up of "Ten Things" for the end of January.
1. I think that it was a very good weekend to be from Manitoba. The Manitoba Jets went into Calgary and took two of three games from the RATH – a feat that few teams have ever done in the history of the league. During Manitoba’s two wins, goalkeeper Amy Clarkson stopped a ridiculous 61 of 64 shots – making it tough for the RATH to ever come back on the Jets, who jumped out to early leads in each game. The Prairie Fire took three of four games from the Fraser Valley Avalanche, were led by the two pronged scoring attack of Team Canada member Sheena MacDonald and rookie (and U19 Team Canada West player) Morgan Jones. McDonald led the way for the Fire with nine points in four games while Jones was close behind with seven.
2. I think this is the quirkiest stat of the year so far. As of the middle of the month, the Gloucester Devils were 6-0 with Assistant Coach Denise Langlois on the bench. When she did not join them on the bench, the Devils were a very modest 3-7-1. This raises an important question, what does Langlois bring to the games? Is she a good luck charm? A strategic mastermind? A secret weapon? We can’t be sure, but we can be pretty sure that the Devils will push hard to have her on the bench more often than not for the rest of year!
3. I think these are the leaders in the league since the time of our last Ten Things I Think I Think:
Goals – Katie Lugg of the Ottawa Ice with nine goals in four games.
Assists – Jennifer Hartley and Jennifer Krochak of the Edmonton WAM! are tied with six assists in five games.
Points – Katie Lugg of the Ottawa Ice with 14 points in four games.
Three or more goals
Bryanna Kelly – Waterloo Wildfire (five goals) vs Richmond Hill Lightning
Julie Blanchette – Montreal Mission (four goals) vs Lac St Louis
Morgan Jones – Prairie Fire (three goals) vs Fraser Valley Avalanche
Chantal St-Laurent – Cyclones de Quebec (three goals) vs Gloucester Devils
Jacqueline Gaudet – Cambridge Turbos (six goals) vs Whitby Wild
Katie Lugg – Ottawa Ice (three goals) vs Lac St Louis
January 24 vs Fraser Valley Avalanche: Elise Crocker – Prairie Fire
January 24 vs Prairie Fire: Shannon Anderson – Fraser Valley Avalanche
Consecutive Games with a Goal: Catherine Cartier – Montreal Mission – 19 Games
Consecutive Games with an Assist: Stephanie Seguin – Montreal Mission – 16 Games
Consecutive Wins: Ottawa Ice – five wins
4. I think if you are not inspired/awed by Jen Krochak, you must not really like sports. Jen has been playing at this level since she was a member of Team Canada in 1994. For some perspective, rookies this year in the NRL were born in 1992! All this time, through many changes for Jen (such as her name – from Willan to Krochak) and for the game, Jen has excelled in this sport and shows no sign of slowing down. She is third in scoring on the very strong Edmonton WAM! and she is 9th in scoring in the western conference. If you have a chance to see the WAM! in action, look for the seemingly unassuming player in jersey #12 and know that you are watching one of the true greats in the history of our sport.
5. I think that two huge accomplishments need to be recognized out of the Richmond Hill versus Cambridge game last weekend. One, the Lightning, led by the games’ first star, goalkeeper Ashley Steele, ended the Turbos season-long winning streak with a 4-2 win. Great game for Richmond Hill, and full marks for an outstanding win. At the same time, we need to recognize that this game ended a 26 game winning streak for the Turbos, stretching back to last season. Great game, great to recognize the Lightning for ending the streak and the Turbos for having the streak in the first place.
6. I think that if you look at the leading scorers over the past calendar year, you might be surprised by one name (but maybe you shouldn’t be): Chantal St-Laurent of the Cyclones de Quebec. St-Laurent has 81 points over the last 36 games, including 46 points this season. Quebec City made it to the national championship tournament last year and with St-Laurent continuing to score, they will be in the mix to get there again this year. (By the way, the leading scorer over that time: Montreal’s Julie Blanchette with 117 points in 33 games).
7. I think that in the eastern playoffs last year, the home team was 3-0 in playoff series. This means that if you are watching the standings this year, keep an eye on the 5th place slot (currently occupied by Waterloo Wildfire). The first place team in the conference gets a bye to the national championship and the next four will host playoff series with the winner moving on to the national championship in Saskatoon. So, top one is great, and top five is a huge help. However, one of these times a road team is bound to win one, so finishing in 5th is way better, but no guarantee of a ticket to the big dance.
8. I think we added a game of the year candidate this past weekend. In Montreal, the Ottawa Ice got past the Montreal Mission, 5-4 in a shootout. At the end of regulation the game was tied at four, with the shots also tied at 30. In the end, Jenna McBride scored her second goal of the shootout and Tori Goble did the near impossible in stopping Catherine Cartier in the shootout to seal the win for the Ice in an absolute thriller.
9. I think it is hard to get a lot of recognition in our league for outstanding defensive play. We have stats for goalkeeping and for scoring, but not so much for playing solid D. This means that Lindsay Burns of the Prairie Fire, Kassy Chiim of the Montreal Mission and Jacqueline Ho of the Calgary RATH (to name just three of many of the "shut down D" in the league) don’t get the publicity their play merits.
10. I think these are my non-NRL thoughts this week:
a. I think I should not have enjoyed watching Brett Favre lose as much as I did. Enjoying watching people lose is bad for your soul and you should try not to do it – even if that person turned his back on your team and an entire state of really nice people.
b. I think that I am looking forward to our "things I messed up or forgot" section in a Ten Things edition closer to the end of the season. There should be lots of material!
c. I think I have never watched American Idol and that I don’t really intend to. I might have, but the start of the new season of Idol displaced my beloved Glee to the spring and for that reason, I will never give Idol a chance. Don’t mess with Sue Sylvester!
d. I think we are 73 days away from crowning an NRL Champion at the 2010 Tim Hortons Canadian Ringette Championships in Saskatoon!