Sunday, 9 November 2014

Huskies implosion disappointing

The Huskies tackle Bisons tailback Kienan LaFrance.
            Even after a couple of days, the implosion by the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team is still a head scratcher.
            During a Canada West semifinal playoff match on Friday night at Griffiths Stadium, the Huskies took a 37-18 lead over the visiting University of Manitoba Bisons, and then the wheels fell off. The Bisons rallied for an improbable 47-39 victory.
            What made the rally a head shaker was the fact the Bisons offence didn’t really play a part in the comeback.
            Just 2:59 into the second half, Huskies tailback Tyler Chow hauled in an 18 yard pass from quarterback Drew Burko to put the hosts up 37-18. Manitoba proceeded to drive down to the Saskatchewan one yard line, but the Huskies came up with a huge goal-line stand on a third down gamble.
            Everything was going the Huskies way. A trip to the Canada West final seemed like just a matter of time.
            When momentum jumped sides, it did so in a big way.
            On the ensuing Saskatchewan possession, Bisons defensive back Jayden McKoy returned an interception 54 yards for a major and the collapse was on. After that score, the Huskies fumbled away the ensuing kickoff to Manitoba.
            Saskatchewan’s defence held, but a 32-yard field goal by Bisons kicker Ryan Jones cut the lead to 37-28. The troubles didn’t stop there.
            McKoy would block a punt and teammate Jordan Linnen recovered the ball and ran it 21 yards for another Bisons touchdown to make the score 37-35 before the third quarter ended.
            At the start of the fourth quarter, a bad long snap on a Huskies punt resulted in a safety that tied the score 37-37.
            The Bisons then put together an offensive drive that resulted in a 24-yard field goal to go up 40-37. Manitoba later conceded a safety to allow the Huskies to close to 40-39.
            That set the stage for the final Huskies mistake with just over two minutes to play in the fourth. After driving down to the Manitoba nine yard line, Burko tried to throw an out pass to the wide side of the field, which really wasn’t the smartest play call for a first and goal situation in that part of the field.
            Linnen made the pick and returned it 98 yards up field. Manitoba quickly scored the insurance touchdown on a gadget play pass as receiver Nic Demski hit quarterback Jordan Yantz for a major from nine yards out to make the score 47-39.
            At that point, a number of the 3,013 spectators at Griffiths Stadium began to leave. Some were harping criticism at the Huskies, which was similar to the jabs fans for the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders level on that squad when things are going bad.
            The pain of the team’s recent playoff struggles were up at the forefront. The setback marked the sixth straight playoff loss for the Huskies, and they are 1-9 in their last 10 post-season matches. When momentum turned on Friday, one wonders of those ghosts returned to haunt the Huskies again.
            With that in mind, the Huskies were a solid 6-2 in the regular season and entered the playoffs on the strength of two convincing wins and hosted their first playoff home game since 2010. The notion was bantered around about making wholesale changes, but that would be a mistake.
            They have a solid core slated to return next season. The best option for the Huskies is to keep building on that core going forward.
            Thanks to the recent post-season struggles, that might not be what some fans want to hear.

Goals finally pour in

Huskies celebrate a goal against the Mount Royal Cougars.
            The Huskies men’s hockey team finally found the goal gusher they were so desperately seeking.
            With a 4-1 loss to the visiting Mount Royal University Cougars on Friday at the ancient Rutherford Rink, the Huskies saw their losing skid grow to seven games. During that stretch, they scored a total of nine goals.
            A goal gusher came during a rematch on Saturday at the Rutherford Rink, where the Huskies score a season high six times rolling off a 6-3 victory. The best looking tally was a tick-tack-toe short-handed marker that saw Craig McCallum and Michael Sofillas combine to set up rearguard Connor Cox late in the second to make the score 4-2.
            Sofillas, Cameron Blair, Matthew Spafford, McCallum and Jesse Ross netted singles for the Huskies (5-7). Jordon Cooke made 26 saves to earn the win in goal.
            Cody Cartier had a hat trick for the Cougars (7-5), while Cam Lanigan made 22 saves taking the loss in goal.
            The Huskies will try to fight back to the .500 mark this coming weekend with a home-and-home series with the University of Regina Cougars. The two clubs play this coming Friday in Regina and Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Rutherford Rink. 

Flinton is just too good

Julia Flinton wheels with the puck for the Huskies.
            It is just plain fun watching Julia Flinton play hockey for the Huskies women’s hockey team.
            The smooth skating defender had a pair of goals including the double overtime winner for the Huskies on Saturday in Calgary against the Mount Royal Cougars. Chelsey Sundby also had a goal and an assist in the 3-2 win by the Huskies, while Cassidy Hendricks made 29 saves to earn the win in goal.
            Sarah Weninger and Jocelyn Froehlich had singles for the Cougars (1-7-2), while Jess Ross made 23 saves taking the loss in goal.
            The Huskies look to Flinton to provide an offensive spark from the backend and the fourth-year agricultural and bioresources student hasn’t disappointed with three goals and three assist in 10 games. Out of her three tallies, two have been game winners.
            In late October, Flinton was named to the Canadian team that will play 2015 Winter Universiade in Granada, Spain. The Winter Universiade runs from Feb. 4-14 in 2015, which means Flinton won’t be available for the Huskies final four regular season games.
            The Canadian team selection is deserved. Flinton has a natural ability to quarterback the play from the back end, which is a very rare quality. When she is in control of the play, it is beautiful sight to see.
            Flinton has helped the defending Canada West champion Huskies win five in a row to improve to 7-3. The Huskies also beat the Cougars 3-1 last Friday at Mount Royal in Calgary.
            They return to action this coming weekend with a home and home series with the Regina Cougars, which marks a rematch of last season’s Canada West final. The two clubs battle Friday at 7 p.m. at the Rutherford Rink and on Saturday in Regina.

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