Friday, 26 February 2016

Captain Kendall comes through

McFaull nets double OT winner in Huskies 4-3 playoff victory

The Huskies celebrate Kendall McFaull's double overtime winner.
    Kendall McFaull’s most unlikely power-play goal might have been the biggest of his hockey career.
    With 3:33 remaining in a second overtime period, McFaull slipped home a bad angle shot to give his University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team a 4-3 Canada West playoff victory over the U of Calgary Dinos on Friday night at the ancient Rutherford Rink. McFaull’s power-play marker came from an awkward angle from the left side of the Dinos goal and gives the Huskies 1-0 lead in a best-of-three Canada West semifinal series between the two clubs.
    The Huskies, who are rated third in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport top ten rankings, will try to lock up the series in Game 2 on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Rutherford Rink.
    “It feels great,” said McFaull about his overtime winner. “It was definitely the biggest goal of my career. I thought we had tonnes of chances early to put it away, and we still couldn’t get it.
    “It is nice the guys stuck with it. We never tailed off and kept going after it.”
McFaull’s winner spoiled a spectacular performance by Dinos goaltender Steven Stanford. The former star of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades turned away an incredible 77 shots taking the loss in goal.
Kendall McFaull was the Huskies' hero on Friday.
    The Huskies peppered Stanford with shots from all sorts of angle, but the Calgary product kept giving his side a chance to stay in the game. One of his best stops came in the first overtime session, when he turned away Huskies centre Logan McVeigh from close in with a kick stop.
    “He (Stanford) was definitely playing strong,” said McFaull. “He made some huge saves and tried to change the momentum of the game, but the guys just stuck to it. We kept coming back at him.”
    Jordon Cooke made 34 saves to pick up his first career Canadian Interuniversity Sport playoff win in goal for the Huskies. While he wasn’t as busy as Stanford, Cooke had to come up with a game-saving stop early in the second overtime, when he sprawled out to deny high-scoring Dinos forward Elgin Pearce on a breakaway.
    The two teams entered the third locked in a 2-2 tie. Just 70 seconds into the frame, Chris Collins netted his second goal of the post-season to put the Dinos up 3-2.
    The Huskies responded with a big push back and second-year forward Michael Sofillas potted the equalizer with 6:42 to play in the third.
    Josh Roach and Kohl Bauml each had the other singles for the Huskies. Dylan Walchuk and Kevin King picked up singles for the Dinos.
    Near the halfway point of the first overtime, fifth-year forward Max Ross thought he scored the winning goal for the Dinos and even celebrated, but the puck did not find its way to the back of the Huskies goal.
    On the overtime winner, McFaull had to dig the puck out from under McVeigh before scoring the winner.
Steven Stanford made 77 stops in a brilliant effort for the Dinos.
    “The puck was just sitting in his feet,” said McFaull. “I got lucky and was able to scoop it out and put it into the net.”
    If Game 3 is needed to decide this series, it will be held on Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Rutherford Rink. Including play in the regular season, the Huskies have won all five of their encounters with the Dinos in the 2015-16 campaign.
    In the other Canada West men’s semifinal series, the U of Alberta Golden Bears took Game 1 of their best-of-three set with a 7-1 victory over the Mount Royal University Cougars in Edmonton on Friday.

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