Cougars roundup – Feb. 16, 2012

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Wow, we suck at making the playoffs

Autumn McDowell
Sports Editor

Men’s basketball

It’s official, for the first time in nearly two decades – coincidentally for the first time since James Hillis became the head coach – the U of R men’s basketball team will not be making the playoffs.

The Cougars were in hostile territory to take on the Lethbridge Pronghorns last weekend with the hopes of stealing a couple of wins from the No. 3 team in the prairie division of Canada West.

However, the Cougars hopes were quickly dashed as they handed Lethbridge a 94-69 victory on a silver platter, consequently handing them a guaranteed playoff spot along with it.

Sterling Nostadt was able to rack up 18 points in the loss, but it just wasn’t enough to get past the Pronghorns on Night 1.

Unfortunately, Night 2 was the same dismal fate for the Cougars, as this time not only did they hand the Pronghorns a 96-72 victory, but they also allowed them to finish over .500 for the first time in the school history.

The Cougars are scheduled to put an end to a season they would rather just forget about this Saturday in a single road game against the Saskatchewan Huskies (15-4).

Women’s volleyball

Meagan Onstad, Solveig Nilson, Tiffany Herman, and Rebecca Rink all played their final games in a Cougars uniform last weekend.

The Cougars (5-15), have known for quite some time that the playoffs were out of reach, but leaving the season and careers on a losing note could not have sat well with the players.

Regina lost three straight sets (25-12, 25-23, 25-19) to the Calgary Dinos (11-9) on Saturday night to close out the season. The Cougars would much rather have ended the season after Friday night, as the team was pumped up after pulling off a 3-1 match victory over the Dinos.

Perhaps it was being back in the old gym on Friday night that allowed the women’s team to get the victory, or maybe it was Onstad’s 19 kills, or Rinks 19 digs, and possibly even Herman’s 44 assists. Whatever the case may be, fans should remember this team for their strong play in the old gym that lead to their come-from-behind (22-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-21) match victory in their final weekend of play.

The other thing the Cougars can be thankful for is that they are not Saskatchewan, who didn’t win one game the entire season.

Women’s hockey

The women’s hockey team (7-14-2) ended its season with a couple of afternoon games last weekend against the Alberta Pandas (13-3-7).

The games oddly took place at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday as opposed to the usual 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday night clashes. The reason for the time switch is most likely because the U of R men’s hockey team was also playing at home, and everyone knows that more people come out to watch the men play than the women – I’m not trying to be mean here, I’m simply stating a fact – as a result, the men got the prime time slot, and the women got, well, 2 p.m. on Sunday.

The women’s hockey team is yet another U of R team that has been out of possible playoff contention for quite some time now, and this weekend didn’t help their case.

Saturday saw the women blank the scoreboard and ultimately lose a 3-0 decision victory to the No. 3 team in the conference.

Sunday was not much better as Lisa Urban and Stefanie Banilevic had to walk away from the Cougars locker room riding a two-game losing streak.

Although it appeared that the Cougars might be able to come back from a 3-0 deficit, as Paige Wheeler came to the rescue plotting two back-to-back goals in the third to quickly cut the lead to one. The Cougars were unable to tie things up in the dying seconds and took the loss 3-2 in their final game of the season.

One positive note they can take from this season is they are not UBC, who only won one out of 24 games the entire season. Some may wonder how it is possible to only win one game in an entire season when all of the players are supposedly university-caliber athletes; I am one of those people.

Men’s hockey

There is no other way to put it: the men’s hockey team lost a heartbreaker on Saturday night.

After coming out of Friday night on the losing end of a 6-2 decision, the Cougars came into Saturday night ready to go. The rules were simple, win and their playoff dreams are still alive, lose and they are dead forever – or at least until next season.

Somehow, the Cougars managed to defy the odds yet again and ended up losing in a shootout to Alberta (18-6-2).

The Cougars jumped out to an early 2-0 lead over one of the top teams in the conference as Terrance DeLaronde scored twice in the opening period.

John Sonntag pushed the Cougars lead to 3-0 when he plotted his second goal of the season roughly eight minutes into the second period.

Jordan Rowley then put a stop to Andrew Hayes bid at a shutout with seven minutes to go in the second.

Alberta’s Johnny Lazo got the ball rolling for Alberta in the third when he managed to get one past Hayes with just four minutes left in the game. Alberta then pulled their goalie with still two minutes left in the frame and the traffic of having the extra player on the ice proved costly for the Cougars as Alberta’s Greg Gardiner scored with just over a minute left to tie things up and send the game to overtime.

Two scoreless and intense overtime periods later, the Cougars found themselves in the midst of a shootout. The shootout went six rounds, as both goaltenders showcased their skills, but ultimately Lazo and Levko Koper were able to hand Alberta the win, stealing it out of the Cougars dead, lifeless fingers.    

The Cougars are scheduled to finish off the regular season with a home-and-home series against the Saskatchewan Huskies; puck drops at 7 p.m. at the Co-operators Centre on Saturday night.

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