Cougar women’s hockey extends win streak to six

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The Cougars sweep on the back of Kish. University of Regina Athletics

Jane Kish continues to backstop the Cougars to success

While the Cougar men’s season turnaround has been impressive, the Cougar women’s hockey team has been incredible. After sitting dead last in Canada West as late as November, the Cougars are undefeated in 2020 and have moved all the way to fourth place. They did so by leapfrogging Mount Royal, who they swept two games to none this past weekend. Netminder Jane Kish posted a record sixth shutout of the season and leads Canada West in that regard. For the veteran net-minder, the season turn around has been all about positive attitude.

“I think positivity and buy-in is what it came down to. Everyone has bought into their role and is putting team success ahead of their own. After Christmas we knew we were going to have to battle to obtain a playoff spot and everyone has come together and done their part to help us achieve that.”

Kish talks about putting team success ahead of their own, and the Cougars epitomize that mentality. The team has just three scorers in the top 25 in Canada West: Jaycee Magwood, defenceman Tamara McVannel, and sniper Jordan Kulbida. However, their depth is excellent. The Cougars have contributions from eleven different goal scorers. Against Mount Royal, the Cougars flashed their depth and toughness.

On Friday the team won a hard fought 2-1 victory, the kind that good teams find a way to win. Captain Jaycee Magwood, who has continually elevated her game in filling a much-needed leadership role in 2020 scored first for the Cougars. After graduating leading scorer of 2018-2019 Emma Waldenberger, Magwood has taken her production to a whole new level; she has already tied her 2019 scoring total with six games left in the season. Martina Maskova added her first goal of the season that would be the decider as the Cougars held on to win 2-1.

On Saturday the Cougars put together an even better performance. One of the issues for the Cougars this season has been penalties, but they were disciplined this weekend, taking just three while generating four of their own. They went to work on the powerplay, scoring both goals on the man advantage. These came courtesy of veterans Merissa Zerr and Shaelyn Vallotton. Kish stopped all 16 shots she faced for her sixth shutout of the season.

“Overall, we played very strong. The team did not allow for many shots, which resulted in a lack of chances for MRU to capitalize. As well, our team’s habits were crisp and the positivity by everyone is what helped drive us to that 6-point sweep.”

Kish’s consistency has been one of the biggest reasons for the Cougars success. This year she has put up tremendous numbers, including a 1.27 goals against average, .942 save percentage, and a league leading six shutouts. For Kish however, it is all about the team.

“For me, the main thing is that we get that win. We have a great group of girls and we deserve to be in a playoff position so being able to do my part in the back end is all that matters. Plus, the team is doing a great job ahead of me and in a team sport every role is important because when everyone works together and does their job the desired outcome is always achieved!”

While Kish understands the importance of team-play, what has been the difference maker in her personal performance this season?

“For me, I trust my preparation that I put into practice the week prior to the games and I have fun. I try to relish in every moment because it is my last year as a Cougar athlete and I am enjoying my time on the ice as best I can, while doing the best I can!”

While the Cougars are almost certainly in playoff position after their wins this weekend, aren’t resting on their laurels. For Kish, each weekend is more important than the last.

“We play Manitoba next weekend. Obviously the end goal is to win both games so we will need to be prepared to play hard. At practices this upcoming week, we will want to keep the intensity up and maintain strong habits, such as crisp passes and driving the net.”

The last-place Manitoba Bisons pose another weekend where the Cougars should be able to pick up six points at home, but the following games won’t be so easy. The U of R women will close out their season against the dangerous U of A Pandas and U of S Huskies. The Pandas boast league scoring leader Autumn MacDougall. Her and Alex Poznikoff have been a dominating force in Can West, combining for 48 points on the season. The weekend after that, they play the rival Huskies who are a spot ahead of the Cougars in third place; both teams should serve to prepare Regina for playoff hockey. With these challenges dead ahead, Kish relishes the opportunity to stay the course.

“As for the rest of the season, I think the biggest thing for us is to keep up our fast pace and to come out firing as soon as the puck drops. All teams in the CanWest league are strong. Therefore, whichever team comes prepared to play and capitalizes on their opportunities will win. This makes every game a battle and it makes the season that much more challenging and fun!”

Come watch the Cougars at the Co-operators Centre in Regina Jan.24 and 25.

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