Saturday, 30 January 2016

Canada West's top Dogs

Huskies lock up first place, Cooke equals club wins record

Jordon Cooke picked up his 18th win of the season on Saturday night.
    When it came to talking about what has become a record season, Jordon Cooke quickly spread the love around.
    Playing in his sophomore season for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team, Cooke made 25 saves on Saturday night to back his club to a 5-2 victory over the U of Manitoba Bisons at the ancient Rutherford Rink. The Leduc, Alta., product also picked up his 18th win of the campaign which equals a club record that was accomplished by Jeff Calvert (1998-99) and Ryan Holfeld (2012-13).
    “It is exciting, definitely,” said Cooke. “Obviously, this is a team sport, so I definitely couldn’t have done it without them (his teammates).
    “It has been one heck of a ride so far, and we’re looking to get more.”
    The Huskies, who are rated first in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport top ten rankings, improved to 21-3 and have won nine straight. They also locked up first place in the Canada West Conference after the U of Calgary Dinos knocked off the U of Alberta Golden Bears 5-3 later on Saturday night in Calgary.
    With four games remaining in the regular season, the Huskies have earned a bye into the semifinal round of the Canada West post-season and will have home ice advantage through the entire conference playoffs.
    After qualifying for the Canada West playoffs with the sixth and final seed with a 10-15-3 mark last season, the Huskies have enjoyed a dream campaign in 2015-16. The quarter stone of the Dogs success is having a strong base in goal.
The Huskies celebrate a goal by captain Kendall McFaull.
    Cooke arrived on campus boasting an impressive resume as a netminder having been a star with the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets. In his final season in the major junior ranks in 2013-14, Cooke was named the Canadian Hockey League’s goalie of the year. He was overlooked in the NHL ranks being deemed too small standing at 5-foot-10 and weighing in at 185 pounds.
    With the Dogs this season, Cooke has posted an 18-3 record, a 2.36 goals against average, a .926 save percentage and two shutouts.
    Huskies head coach Dave Adolph couldn’t stress how important it is to be strong in goal in hockey, and Cooke has been stellar between the pipes.
    “It gives your whole team confidence in everything else you do,” said Adolph. “Jordon tonight in the first period, we were up 1-0 at the end of the first, and it could have been 3 or 4-1 for them.
    “Jordon has done that all year. He has given us a chance to win.”
    Having suffered an 8-3 thrashing at the hands of the Huskies on Friday night at the Rutherford Rink, the Bisons came out with some good jump in the opening 20 minutes of Saturday’s encounter.
    The Huskies jumped ahead 1-0 at the 14:10 mark of the first, when rookie forward Kohl Bauml fed a pass over to linemate Andrew Johnson, who slipped home a shot from a bad angle just under the bar of the Bisons goal.
    Just 26 seconds into the second, the Bisons had a glourious chance to draw even, when fourth year forward Jesse Paradis was awarded a penalty shot. Despite his small stature, Cooke played large in goal forcing Paradis to shoot wide on the penalty shot attempt.
Parker Thomas netted the Huskies final goal in Saturday's win.
    The Huskies proceeded to take control from that point. At the 3:34 mark of the second, captain and standout defenceman Kendall McFaull intercepted a pass just inside the blue-line of the Bisons zone and blasted home his fourth goal of the season to increase the Dogs’ lead to 2-0.
Before the second ended, Bauml put his soft hands to work tucking home a tally in close to give U of S a 3-0 lead.
    Levi Cable and Parker Thomas rounded out the scoring for the Huskies in the third, who led 4-0 at one point. Jordan DePape and Jonah Wasylak replied with singles for the Bisons, who fell to 10-12-2. Byron Spriggs turned away 26 shots in the U of M net.
    As far as the Huskies net is concerned, Cooke said he is having success due to the fact he has been able to track the puck well.
    “I think I am just watching the pucks a little bit better than I have been,” said Cooke. “For me, that is the thing.
    “If I am not seeing pucks, I am not stopping them.”
    He also admits his comfort level in the CIS ranks is higher this second season due to the fact he has a full campaign under his belt being a university level student-athlete.
    “Obviously, last year was a learning experience whether it was hockey or off ice at school,” said Cooke. “I definitely think I grew up as an individual.”
    The Huskies are also a win shy of matching their overall club record for wins in a season. U of S has won 22 games in a regular season twice in team history. The last 22-win campaign came back in 1999-2000, when the Dogs posted their best ever regular season mark at 22-3-3.
    Cooke has been impressed watching his current group of teammates play in front of him.
    “They have been unbelievable all year,” said Cooke. “I think every weekend we’ve shone. We’ve always gotten better, and that is a big thing at this point.”
    The Huskies return to action this coming Friday and Saturday, when they travel to Edmonton to take on the Golden Bears (15-7-2).

Goals dry up again for Huskies women’s squad

Marley Ervine played in her 132nd career regular season game.
    One night after posting a 3-1 win, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team lost their touch around the net once again.
    On Saturday night in Winnipeg, the Huskies dropped a 3-0 decision to the host U of Manitoba Bisons despite holding a 21-19 edge in the shots on goal department. Cailtin Fyten, Charity Price and Lauryn Keen potted singles for the Bisons (11-11-2), who received a 21 save shutout performance from Amanda Schubert in goal.
    Cassidy Hendricks made 16 stops in goal for the Huskies, who failed to score on four power-play chances. The Huskies, who are rated 10th in the CIS top ten rankings, fell to 12-9-3.
    The Huskies sit a point ahead of the Bisons for fourth overall in Canada West. U of S has 36 points coming from nine regulation wins, three extra time victories and three extra time setbacks.
    The Bisons have 35 points coming from the fact all 11 of their wins have come in regulation along with two extra time setbacks. Three points are awarded for regulation victories and two points are given for extra time wins in Canada West women’s play.
    In Saturday’s setback, feisty forward Marley Ervine appeared in her 132nd career regular season game and moved alone into top spot in the career games played list for the Huskies women’s team. Kandace Cook sits second with 131 games played.
    The Huskies return to action this coming Friday and Saturday when they host the U of Alberta Pandas (13-8-3) at 7 p.m. on both nights at the Rutherford rink.

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