Saturday, 13 February 2016

Huskies home for round one

Dogs dump rival Cougars 6-2 to close regular season

The Huskies celebrate their 6-2 victory over the Cougars on Saturday night.
    The goal gusher finally came for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team, and they will host a home playoff series because of it.
    On Saturday night at the ancient Rutherford Rink, the Huskies used a four-goal third period surge to dump their provincial rivals the University of Regina Cougars 6-2 to close their Canadian Interuniversity Sport regular season schedule. The six-goal outburst was the highest for the Huskies in any game this season. In their previous nine contests, the Huskies netted just 12 goals, which included falling 2-1 to the Cougars in double overtime on Friday in Regina.
    Saturday’s victory allowed the Huskies to improve to 14-9-5 to finish fourth in the Canada West conference. They will host the fifth place University of Manitoba Bisons (13-13-0-2) in a best-of-three first round series that is expected to start this coming Friday at the Rutherford Rink.
    “Everyone hates the Rutherford Rink, and we love bringing teams in here,” said Huskies fourth-year forward Rachel Johnson, who scored twice in Saturday’s win. “To play here instead of Manitoba is definitely big and to have the momentum going into playoffs is also huge.”
Kaitlin Willoughby scored twice for the Huskies on Saturday.
    The Huskies drew first blood in Saturday’s contest scoring on the power play, when feisty forward Marley Ervine tipped home a point shot from star defender Julia Flinton. The hosts proceeded to go up 2-0 before the first period ended, when Kaitlin Willoughby deflected home a shot from linemate Lauren Zary.
    U of R responded with a huge push back in the second period as standout sniper Kylie Gavelin netted her 11th of the season, while Bailey Braden potted the equalizer at the 9:27 mark to tie things up at 2-2.
    The Huskies countered the Cougars surge with their big third period outburst. The surge began at the 2:36 mark when Willoughby scored her second of the contest on a brilliant individual rush down the right wing where she roofed a backhander top shelf.
    Just 52 seconds after that tally, Johnson scored the first of her two goals on the night. The Edmonton product picked up her second marker just past the midway point of the frame popping home a shot while falling to the ice. Checking forward Kennedy Harris rounded out the scoring flipping home a long distance empty-net goal with the Cougars working a power play.
    Cassidy Hendricks made 29 stops to earn the win in goal for the Huskies. Toni Ross, who set a Cougars record for wins in a season at 17, turned away 15 of 20 shots taking the loss in goal for the U of R.
Rachel Johnson, centre, celebrates her second of two goals for the Huskies.
    “Coming into tonight and absolutely playing a great game, six goals, we haven’t done that in a long time,” said Willoughby, who finished with 10 goals on the season for a third straight campaign.       “It just means a lot that we can play at home next weekend. I think home ice is huge for us, especially that first weekend so we can gain some momentum.”
    The Prince Albert product was pleased to net her first multi-goal game of the season.
    “It was really nice actually,” said Willoughby. “The one goal I honestly had to do nothing. Zary made an amazing play.
    “The second I just found the top corner, which was awesome. It felt good. I am feeling really good going into playoffs now for sure.”
    The Cougars, who were rated 10th in the CIS top ten rankings, entered Saturday’s game needing a regulation win to potentially finish first in Canada West and earn a bye into the semifinal round of the post-season. They dropped to 17-10-1 to finish third, which means they have to face the red hot University of Calgary Dinos in a first round best-of-three series. The Dinos finished with a 12-12-4 record after winning nine of their past 11 games.
Goalie Cassidy Hendricks makes a kick save for the Huskies.
    In a weird twist, the Cougars actually recorded the most wins in the conference. In Canada West women’s play, three points are awarded in the standings for regulation wins and two points are given for extra time victories, and the Cougars finished behind both the University of Alberta Pandas (16-9-3) and the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds (16-9-3) due to claiming victory 12 times in regulation. The Pandas had 15 regulation wins and the Thunderbirds had 13 regulation victories.
    The Huskies head into the post season having split their four encounters with the Bisons. Johnson is hoping her squad can find some magic to help capture a second conference title in three seasons. The Huskies won their first Canada West crown two years ago.
    “It is going to be a battle, but we are looking forward to it,” said Johnson. “Hopefully, we can do what we did back in 2014.”

Rally falls short for Huskies men’s team

Kohl Bauml scored for the Huskies on Saturday night.
    The U of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team finished their regular season with a comeback attempt that came up just short in Regina on Saturday night.
    The host U of Regina Cougars jump out to a 3-0 lead at the 5:54 mark of the first period before the offence got going for the visitors. The Huskies rallied back to force a 3-3 tie heading into the second intermission, but fifth-year U of R forward Brock Appleyard netted the only goal in the third and his second tally of the night to give the Cougars a 4-3 victory.
    Stephen Langford and Sanfred King each had singles for the Cougars, while Mitch Kilgore turned away 27 shots to earn the win in goal. The Cougars finished last in Canada West with a 7-21 mark.
    Sean Aschim, Levi Cable and Kohl Bauml replied with singles for the Huskies. Blake Voth, who was making his fourth start of the campaign, turned away 27 shots taking the loss in goal for U of S.
    The Huskies, who were rated third in the CIS top ten rankings, had first place in Canada West locked up going into their last four games and finished with a 22-6 record. Their 22 victories equals a club record for wins in a regular season. The Huskies men’s team earned 22 wins in 1999-2000 finishing 22-3-3 and in 1987-88 recording a 22-5-1 mark.
    On Friday, the Huskies downed the Cougars 5-3 at the Rutherford Rink to allow Jordon Cooke to set a new school record for individual goaltending wins in a season at 19. During the regular season, Cooke posted a 19-5 record, a 2.52 goals against average, a .921 save percentage and two shutouts.
    The old record of 18 wins in a regular season was shared by Jeff Calvert (1998-99) and Ryan Holfeld (2012-13).
    The Huskies have a bye into the semifinal round of the playoffs and will be off next weekend waiting to see who they will play in a best-of-three series.

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