TORONTO - With only two weeks remaining until the 2013 CIS women's hockey championship (March 7-10) hits downtown Toronto, 14 teams remain in a battle for five spots on the national stage.
The CIS boasts some of the top women's hockey player and coaching talent in the world, including the likes of Olympians Hayley Wickenheiser, Vicky Sunohara, Danielle Goyette and Danièle Sauvageau.
Canada West receives two berths into the championship, thanks to the 2012 champion Calgary Dinos. The OUA also receives two berths into the championship, the conference winners and the host, while the RSEQ and AUS champions will round out the teams battling for national supremacy.
Let's take a look at the other match-ups across the country:
Three-time Olympic gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser and the reigning CIS champion Calgary Dinos head into a Canada West best-of-three semi-final series with the Alberta Pandas this week.
The Dinos are coached by Olympian and women's hockey icon Danielle Goyette, while the Pandas look to knock off the 2012 Canada West champions and earn a record 14th CIS championship berth.
The Regina Cougars and UBC Thunderbirds are set to battle in the other semi-final series. After finishing at the bottom of the standings in 2011-12, these two teams saw huge improvement this season, finishing second and third, respectively, in Canada West standings.
The Thunderbirds have never competed at the national level, while the Cougars last made the national tournament in 2003.
The Canada West semi-final series winners will earn their spot in the national championship this weekend.
Ontario University Athletics (OUA)
The defending OUA champion and top-seeded Laurier Golden Hawks have home-ice advantage in a best-of-three series with the Western Mustangs this week. The Hawks have won eight of the past nine OUA titles, but despite nine consecutive CIS championship berths, have only a single national title to their credit (2005).
The Western Mustangs are seeking their first OUA banner and national championship appearance in team history.
The Guelph Gryphons and Queen's Gaels square off in Ontario's second semi-final series. Both teams have consistently been ranked among the top 10 teams in the country all year. The Gryphons are riding an impressive 16-game win streak and look to return to the national stage after a 13-year hiatus. Amanda Parkins led the OUA and all CIS rookies with 44 points in 26 games.
The Queen's Gaels finished third overall in the OUA and look for their second CIS berth in the past three years. After claiming the OUA banner in 2011, the Gaels went onto earn the national bronze medal in their first-ever CIS championship appearance.
Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ)
Under the tutelage of former Olympic assistant coach Peter Smith, the McGill Martlets have posted a perfect regular season with an unblemished 20-0-0 record. The No. 1 ranked team since Nov. 6 are led by CIS leading scorers Katia Clement-Hydra and Melodie Daoust.
Daoust, the 2012 CIS rookie of the year, led all players in the nation with 33 assists and 54 points, while Clement-Hydra notched a CIS-leading 24 goals in 20 games. They are the only two players in the country to have averaged over two points per contest.
The Marlets are set for a best-of-three semi-final series against the fourth-place Carleton Ravens this week.
The 2012 CIS silver medalist Montreal Carabins take on the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the other RSEQ semifinal. Carabins bench boss Danièle Sauvageau, who led Team Canada to an Olympic gold medal in 2002 in Salt Lake City, has led Montreal to two national championship appearances since the program started in 2009.
Atlantic University Sport (AUS)
Mount Allison University hosts the top six teams at the 2013 AUS championship this weekend (Feb. 21-24). The St. FX X-Women are the clear favourites after finishing the season in first place with a 23-1-0 record, but they will be up against St. Thomas, Saint Mary's, UPEI, Moncton and Mount Allison for a chance to challenge the best in Toronto.
CLICK HERE to read more
Please login using your credentials received by email when you registered.×