Sunday, 15 February 2015

Huskies turning the corner?

An army of U of R Cougars try to stop Kandace Cook of the U of S Huskies.
    The smiles and the good-natured personalities were back.
    The players on the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women's hockey team are starting to look more and more like themselves. After starting the second semester with seven straight losses, the Huskies have won three of their final five regular season contests entering the Canada West Conference playoffs.
    The Huskies closed regular season splitting a home-and-home series with the U of Regina Cougars. The Cougars took Friday's encounter 5-4 after a tiebreaking shootout at the Co-operators Centre in Regina. The Huskies rebounded taking Saturday's encounter at the ancient Rutherford Rink on the U of Saskatchewan campus 2-1.
    After the contest, it was pretty obvious the defending Canada West champs had the spring back in their steps. To put things simply, they looked like themselves.
    The positive vibes on the weekend started during Friday's loss. While the Cougars took the win, the Huskies did a lot of good things and could have stolen a victory on the road.
    The Cougars jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Carleen Meszaros and Kylie Gavelin. From the point, the Kandace Cook show took over.
    Before the first period ended, Cook, who is playing with a broken finger, scored to pull the Huskies to within 2-1. The fifth-year forward scored twice on the power play in the second period to put the visitors up 3-2. Individually, she was putting on arguably the best individual performance seen by a player on the Huskies women's team this season.
The Huskies celebrate a Kaitlin Willoughby equalizer in Regina on Friday.
    While the Cougars were holding a 24-10 edge in the shots on goal department after 40 minutes, the Huskies didn't appear to be in trouble holding a one-goal edge. That changed in the third.
    The hosts pushed back in a huge way, and the Huskies were pinned in their own zone for large parts of the third. The Cougars outshot the Huskies 17-5 in the frame and went ahead 4-3 on goals by Stephanie Sawchuk and Gavelin's second tally of the contest.
    It didn't appear the Huskies would get a chance to pick up the equalizer until the Cougars made an error late in the third. With 3.5 seconds to play in the third, the hosts iced the puck at a point in time they didn't really need to.
    On the offensive zone faceoff, the Huskies perfectly executed a play they had been working on for some time. Cook won a draw back to second-year standout Kaitlin Willoughby, who blasted home the equalizer to tie things up 4-4.
    The Huskies controlled play for the majority of the four-on-four and three-on-three overtime periods. They had a number of chances to net the winning goal. The best one came when feisty forward Marley Ervine wasn't able to find defender Hanna McGillivray, who was open for a backdoor pass during the three-on-three session.
    Cougars forward Kylee Kupper scored the only goal in the tie-breaking shootout in session's seventh round to win the contest for the hosts.
    Cassidy Hendricks made 39 saves over 70 minutes for the Huskies. Toni Ross turned away 17 shots over 70 minutes in goal for the Cougars.
    On Saturday in Saskatoon, fifth-year forward Chelsey Sundby scored in the final seconds of the first to put the Huskies up 1-0. On a power play at the 4:52 mark of the second, Ervine knocked home a loose puck near the Cougars goal to put the Huskies up 2-0. Cook and Willoughby picked up assists on the play.
    Before the second ended, Meghan Sherven scored for the Cougars to cut the Huskies lead to 2-1, but that score would hold up as the final outcome.
Jerrica Waltz makes a save for the Huskies.
    In her second start, rookie Jerrica Waltz picked up her first career win for the Huskies making 28 saves in a solid performance. Jennifer Schmidt turned away 23 shots in goal for the Cougars.
    As far as team play and executing systems went, the Huskies had arguably their best outing in those departments on Saturday. Their forecheck proved to be really effect in the third.
    With a 14-10-4 record, the Huskies also edged the 15-11-2 Cougars for fifth overall in Canada West. The Huskies topped the Cougars by four points in the standings due to having a 10-6 edge in regulation wins. Regulations wins are worth three points as opposed to two points in the Canada West women's standings this season.
    After Saturday's victory over the Cougars, the Huskies began to turn their sights towards the Canada West playoffs. They will face the 14-9-5 U of Calgary Dinos in a best-of-three quarter-final series. Game 1 is set for this coming Saturday in Calgary.

Dream Wedding Contest goes to Smuk and Vause

Cody Smuk and Stephanie Vause, centre, watch a Huskies game.
    It might go down likely as a Valentine's Day that may never be topped for Cody Smuk and Stephanie Vause.
    On Saturday in Saskatoon, Smuk, a former member of the Huskies men's hockey team, and Vause, a former member of the Huskies track and field team, found out they won a Dream Wedding Contest, which was organized by Crystal MacLeod of RSVP Event Design. MacLeod started the contest after her fiancé died of cancer.
    Smuk has been battling cancer since May of last year. He is currently undergoing 43 weeks of chemotherapy treatment. He proposed to Vause in late December, and she said, "Yes."
    The total package won is valued at $28,000, and the value is going up as more companies add contributions.
    Global News in Saskatoon did a great story on this contest, which is right here.

Hockey Huskies capture Universiade medals

Craig McCallum in action for the Huskies.
    A few shiny medals might make their rounds at various practices at the Rutherford Rink this week.
    A total of five players and one coach from the Huskies hockey teams were part of the Canadian squads at the 2015 Winter Universiade held in Granada, Spain.
    Defender Julia Flinton was part of Canada's women's team that won a silver medal. On Thursday, Canada fell 3-0 in the gold medal game to Russia.
    On the men's side, goaltender Ryan Holfeld, forward Craig McCallum, and defencemen Matt Delahey and Kendall McFaull helped Canada win bronze. Canada's men's team was guided by Huskies men's head coach Dave Adolph. Canada dumped the Czech Republic 6-2 in Saturday's bronze medal contest.
    The women's team was made up of players throughout Canadian Interuniversity Sport. The men's team was made up of players just from the Canada West Conference.
    With players away in Spain, the regular season for the Canada West Conference in men's hockey concluded on Jan. 30.
    The Huskies return to action this coming Friday when they travel to Calgary to take on the Mount Royal Cougars in Game 1 of a best-of-three Canada West quarter-final playoff series.

Nogier homecoming on Wednesday

Nelson Nogier when he was with the Blades.
    The Saskatoon Blades are rolling out the red carpet for local product Nelson Nogier, who is a former member of the Blades.
    Nogier, who is an 18-year-old defenceman, spent two-and-a-half seasons with the Blades. Shortly before this season's Christmas break, the Blades dealt Nogier and 18-year-old right-winger Austin Adamson to the Red Deer Rebels in exchange for 17-year-old winger Mason McCarty, a first round selection in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft and a second round selection in the 2015 Bantam Draft.
    The Rebels visit Saskatoon on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. match against the Blades at the Sasktel Centre. The contest will mark Nogier's first game back in Saskatoon since the trade.
    In connection with the return, the Blades are giving away 2,500 Nelson Nogier bobblehead dolls to those in attendance. The doll shows Nogier in his old #55 Blades jersey.
    As a lot of people know, Nogier is one my young cousins, so I find the promotion cool. I never thought I would see the day a bobblehead doll would be made of a member of my family.

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