Friday, 16 October 2015

Spectacular showdown at Rutherford

Huskies slip past Pronghorns in stellar CIS game

Andrew Johnson burst into the offensive zone for the Huskies.
  It was a game the late Saskatoon StarPhoenix sports editor Doug McConachie would have loved.
    Known as one of the great characters in Canada’s sports media circles, McConachie would almost fall out of the press box due to over excitement, if he was witnessing a really good hockey game.
    McConachie was best known for the columns he wrote on the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, but he would have been pumped had he seen what took play at the ancient Rutherford Rink on the University of Saskatchewan campus on Friday night. In an action packed match, the host Huskies downed the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns 3-2 in a Canadian Interuniversity Sport men’s hockey clash.
    While the contest wasn’t the highest scoring game you might see, it was filled with tonnes of offensive chances. Huskies netminder Jordan Cooke and Pronghorns counterpart Dylan Tait, who are both WHL graduates, both put on shows.
    Cooke turned away 24 shots, and his best stop might have come on an early second period breakaway, when he made a kick save on Pronghorns defenceman Tim Campbell. Tait, who recently beat testicular cancer, stopped 31 shots, and he was tested constantly in tight, as the Huskies drove hard to the net.
    The Huskies also appear to have found a new star in the early going in rookie forward Andrew Johnson, who seems to have the golden touch around the net. The local product accurately snipped home his club’s second and third goals of the night.
    The first tally came late in the second and gave the Huskies a 2-1 edge going into the second intermission. The second marker came just 56 seconds into the third to put the host side up 3-1.
Dylan Tait makes a stop in the Pronghorns goal.
    In the Dog’s 3-0 start, Johnson has netted the winner in every contest and has four goals and an assist so far this season.
    The Pronghorns made their share of plays as well in falling to 1-2. Sophomore left-winger Justin Valentino set up both his squad’s goals. His first helper was put in by Cassidy Mappin, who gave the visitors a 1-0 early in the first period.
    Valentino’s second helper came on a goal from Dalton Sward, who scored just before the midway point of the third period to cut the Huskies edge to 3-2.
    Jesse Ross accounted for the Huskies other goal with a beauty snipe of his own in the first frame.
Both teams transitioned up and down the ice at a very high tempo, blocked shots in the defensive end and threw some solid clean hits. The pace moved so fluidly that all the officials had to do was stay back and let both sides play.
Huskies goalie Jordon Cooke pushes a puck out of harms way.
    The men in the striped shirts had to do their biggest work after the third period expired, as what amounted to a minor scrum occurred behind the Huskies net. The mix up included a lot of wrestling and angry shouting but not much more than that.
    The Huskies entered Friday’s game as the fifth rated team in the CIS’s top ten rankings. The spectators saw a great show, and if Friday’s game is a sign of things to come, the old barn on the U of S campus is going to be the place to be.
    The Huskies and Pronghorns go at it again Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Rutherford Rink.
    NOTE - The Huskies players all hit the ice for warm ups sporting #24 jerseys like the one that was once worn by team alumnus Cody Smuk, who passed away in June due to cancer. The team plans to keep doing that all season to honour the late gritty and hard working forward. 

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this blog post, feel free to email them to Check out more game photos on Twitter @StanksSports.