Friday, 27 November 2015

Huskies fun to watch even in defeat

Huskies forward Andrew Johnson, left, tries to bat the puck into the goal.
    Even in defeat, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team gives you full value and more for the price of admission.
    Going into Friday, it was easy to find reasons to head out and watch the Huskies. They have jumped out to 12-2 start and are ranked first in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport top ten rankings.
    The rookie line of Andrew Johnson, Levi Cable and Kohl Bauml have been very exciting to watch. A whole host or rearguards including captain Kendall McFaull, Connor Cox, Jesse Forsberg, Jordan Fransoo and Zak Stebner have been rock solid on the back end and have provided big contributions on the power play.
    Sophomore Jordon Cooke has shown the form that saw him take home the Canadian Hockey League’s goalie of the year in 2014. Fifth year forward Matthew Spafford always hits the ice with an extremely high compete level, and you know you will see a strong and honest effort from him each and every night.
    With all that said, the best reason to see the Huskies in action comes from the fact they play in a strong CIS league, which has them based out of a solid Canada West conference. Most teams in the CIS and Canada West contain a high number of former top end players from the major junior ranks.
    All the players the Huskies face have all played hockey at an elite level for a lengthy time. All teams know how to make adjustments to counter the opposition, and players keep striving to be better and cut down on mistakes.
Huskies forward Levi Cable has been dangerous in the offensive zone.
    On Friday night at the ancient Rutherford Rink, the Huskies met the red hot Mount Royal University Cougars, who were riding a four-game winning streak. When Friday’s encounter wrapped up, the Cougars ran that winning streak up to five games pulling out a 5-3 victory.
    The Cougars are a classic example of the tough and experience opponent the Huskies face game in and game out. Mount Royal entered the contest ranked 10th in the CIS rankings and their roster contains talented players like forwards Tyler Fiddler and Cam Maclise, who can give opponents all sorts of headaches.
    Early in the first, the Cougars jumped out to a 2-0 lead after scoring twice in a span of 61 seconds. Bill Marshall and Fiddler accounted for the visitor’s tallies in the surge.
    While the Cougars got the jump on the scoreboard, the Huskies pushed back and rang a couple of shots off the posts of the Mount Royal goal before the first period expired.
    The Huskies continued to push in the second and were finally rewarded shortly after the midway point of the frame, when Cable rifled home a power-play goal off of a sick setup pass by Fransoo.
    At the 9:01 mark of the third, the Huskies pulled even at 2-2, when Forsberg blasted home a point shot through a screen for another power-play tally.
    Just over 90 seconds later, the Cougars went ahead 3-2, as Maclise scored with the man advantage, but the Huskies didn’t go away.
Jordan Fransoo helps anchor the Huskies back end.
    The hosts tied the game up at 3-3 at the 14:28 mark of the third, when forward Josh Roach fired home a point shot through a screen for another power-play goal.
    Just under two minutes after that tally, sophomore Zack Henry scored to put the Cougars up 4-3. The Huskies again pushed for the equalizer, which saw them pull Cooke with 2:03 to play in the frame. They had a couple of solid chances that weren’t able to find the back of the net, and Maclise iced the win for the Cougars with an empty netter with 19 seconds to play.
    Cooke turned away 23 of 27 shots for the Huskies, who fell to 12-3. Rookie Colin Cooper stopped 26 shots for the Cougars (9-4-2).
    Some of the Mount Royal goals were the result of some untimely giveaways by the Huskies, but you have to expect they will be focused to play a touch smarter the next time out to come out on the better end of the scoreboard.
    In defeat, you have to be impressed with the Huskies will to battle back. When they face the Cougars again on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Rutherford Rink, another classic showdown will likely be in the cards.
    You almost wish they could drop the puck right now.

Rally comes up short

Brooklyn Haubrich charges hard to the net for the Huskies.
    A comeback attempt by the U of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team came up just short on the road on Friday night.
    In Calgary, the Huskies fell behind the host Mount Royal University Cougars 2-0 after two periods and dropped a 2-1 decision. Kate Hufnagel and Sarah Weninger scored in the first and second periods respectively for the Cougars.
    Rookie forward Brooklyn Haubrich replied for the Huskies at the 10:19 mark of the third, but the visitors, who are rated seventh in the CIS top ten rankings, were unable to final the tally that would have forced overtime.
    Cassidy Hendricks made 21 stops in goal for the Huskies, who fell to 8-5-2. Emma Pincott made 23 save in goal for the Cougars, who won their fourth in a row to improve to 8-6-1.
    The Huskies and Cougars go at it again on Saturday in Calgary.

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