Dogs dump Thunderbirds 4-1 in regular season opener
|Jordan Fransoo starts a rush up ice for the Huskies.|
Matt Hewitt couldn’t hold off the University of Saskatchewan Huskies forever.
The fourth-year goaltender from the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds men’s hockey team looked poised to steal the regular season opening game between the two squads on Friday night at the ancient Rutherford Rink. Hewitt was standing on his head turning away the various waves of pressure applied by the Huskies, but his armour finally cracked.
With 4:01 to play in the second period, third-year defenceman Jordan Fransoo snuck home a point shot to put the Huskies up 1-0. The tally came on the Huskies sixth power-play opportunity and proved to be a just reward for all the chances the hosts were creating.
At the 2:15 mark of the third period, the Huskies offence continued to roll when centre Logan McVeigh slipped home his first of the season. Just over four minutes later while working on another power play, McVeigh picked up his second goal of the game tapping home a loose puck in the crease of the UBC net to put the Dogs up 3-0.
|The Huskies crash in on Thunderbirds goaltender Matt Hewitt.|
The Huskies locked things down defensively, and Michael Sofillas potted an empty net goal to cement a 4-1 victory.
U of S enters the current campaign as defending Canada West champions, and for the first time out, the Huskies had to be satisfied with their effort. Hewitt turned away 33 of 36 shots to allow the Thunderbirds to stay in a contest, where they spent numerous stretches getting pinned in their own zone.
Jordon Cooke, who was named the most outstanding goaltender for Canadian Interuniversity Sport last season, turned away 18 shots to steady the Huskies in their own end.
U of S also has a lineup that features nine first-year players, which included a good looking forward line made up of Carson Stadnyk, Wyatt Johnson and Connor Gay. The recruiting class was filled with individuals who had outstanding careers in the Western Hockey League, which was one of the reasons the Dogs topped the Canada West pre-season coaches’ poll.
With a huge influx of new players, one had to wonder how quickly it would take this new group to jell.
Early on, it’s apparent the chemistry is coming. The Huskies rolled four forward lines that came at the Thunderbirds with speed. In all reality, the home side likely deserved to be rewarded with a few more goals.
|Veternan D Connor Cox had two assists for the Huskies.|
That power-play chance came just over four minutes in the second period, when the contest was still tied 0-0. On that kill, the Huskies never let UBC really get set offensively, and the visitors were constantly sent back into their own zone after the Dogs cleared the puck down the ice.
While the Huskies turned heads with the newcomers they brought in, the returnees accounted for all the offence, which included two assist nights coming from fourth-year defenceman Connor Cox and fourth-year winger Josh Roach.
The Huskies and Thunderbirds will go at it again on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Rutherford Rink. With the way the Huskies looked and considering the potential they could reach, a ticket buyer will never go wrong in making a trip to the U of S campus to see this group in action.
Vilgrain too much for Huskies women’s team to handle
|Cassidy Hendricks made 19 stops in the Huskies setback to the Thunderbirds.|
Calgary product Cassandra Vilgrain transferred to the Thunderbirds from the University of New Hampshire Wildcats of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and potted a goal and two assists to lead her new team to a 4-0 regular season opening victory over the U of S. Vilgrain is in her fourth year of eligibility, and she gives the Thunderbirds, who enter the season as defending Canada West champs, an added dimension offensively.
Nicole Saxvik, Alexa Ranahan and Madison Patrick, who is the older sister of Brandon Wheat Kings star and high first round NHL draft prospect Nolan Patrick, all picked up singles for the Thunderbirds. Amelia Boughn made 17 stops to earn the shutout in the UBC goal.
Fifth-year veteran Cassidy Hendricks turned away 19 shots taking the loss in goal for the Huskies.
U of S held a 9-4 edge in shots on goal after the first period before momentum swung in the Thunderbirds favour, when Saxvik opened the game’s scoring 3:51 into the second period.
The two teams go at it again on Saturday in Vancouver.
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