U of S to defend Canada West title, earns berth to nationals
|Logan McVeigh, top, celebrates scoring for the Huskies.|
The sophomore centre led the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team in scoring during the course of a 28-game regular season netting 13 goals and 18 assists. Along with third-year winger Michael Sofillas and fourth-year winger Josh Roach, McVeigh was on a forward unit that became the team’s top line.
In the Huskies 4-3 victory in Game 1 of their Canada West semifinal series against the Mount Royal University Cougars on Friday at the ancient Rutherford Rink, McVeigh’s line was unable to get on the scoreboard.
With the Huskies locked in a 2-2 draw with the Cougars late in the second period in Game 2 on Saturday night at Rutherford, McVeigh’s unit was still searching to get on the scoreboard.
|Logan McVeigh, left, finishes a check for the Huskies.|
“Our line was struggling a little bit to start that game,” said McVeigh. “To get that goal, that game winner, it is huge for us going into next weekend.
“Just to see that puck go into the back of the net is huge for confidence. We’re looking forward to next weekend.”
For the second straight year, the series victory allows the Huskies to lock up a berth to the University Cup national championship tournament, which runs March 16 to 19 at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. Before nationals rolls around, the Huskies will attempt to win the Canada West championship for a second year in a row.
The Huskies open the best-of-three Canada West championship series this coming Friday at 7 p.m. at Rutherford against the U of Alberta Golden Bears. The Golden Bears advanced to the Canada West final downing the U of Calgary Dinos 3-2 in Game 2 of their Canada West semi in Edmonton, which allowed U of A to sweep the set 2-0.
The Huskies and Golden Bears met in last year’s final, which saw the Huskies pull out a 2-0 series sweep.
|Winger Michael Sofillas circles in the offensive zone for the Huskies.|
“It is exciting for sure,” said McVeigh. “We have a big job here to do next weekend against U of A.
“Going back to nationals is huge for our organization, our team. We are excited to get out there (to nationals). We have to take care of Canada West first.”
Against the Cougars in Game 2, the Huskies showed their resiliency. At the 5:55 mark of the first, Cougars captain Matthew Brown got in alone on Huskies star netminder Jordon Cooke and slipped home the opening goal of the game to give the visitors a 1-0 edge.
|Levi Cable (#10) blasts home the Huskies first goal on Saturday.|
At the 13:49 mark of the second, Devin Gannon tucked home the Cougars second goal of the contest past Cooke to put the visitors up 2-1. Just 26 seconds later, sophomore forward Andrew Johnson one-timed a setup pass from rookie linemate Connor Gay to allow the Huskies to tie the contest up at 2-2.
That set the stage for McVeigh to net his winner.
“Our team moto is never say die,” said McVeigh. “We always think we have a chance to win no matter what the score is.
“A tie game like that, we are going for win. We are not going for the tie or overtime.”
|Cam Lanigan makes a stop in goal for the Cougars.|
McVeigh wasn’t surprised by Mount Royal’s push back.
“They have a solid team,” said McVeigh. “They work hard every shift.
“It seems like they are always coming at us. We play defensively very well and of course, we have our MVP goaltender that stood on his head for a couple of breakaways and that helps.”
Cooke made 29 stops to earn the win in goal for the Huskies. Lanigan turned away 23 shots to take the loss in goal for the Cougars.
Mount Royal finished fourth in Canada West with a 15-11-2 record, but lost nine of its last 11 games including action in both the regular season and playoffs.
|Jordon Cooke, right, makes a breakaway save for the Huskies.|
During the regular season, the Huskies took three out of the four matches against the Golden Bears.
“We go against U of A every year it seems like,” said McVeigh. “It is a big goal of ours to take care of Canada West first and then go out to nationals and try to win that. For sure, we are going to try and do that.”
Game 2 of the Canada West championship series is set for Saturday, March 4 at 7 p.m. at Rutherford. If a Game 3 is necessary, it will be held Sunday, March 5 at 7 p.m. at Rutherford.
Johnson, Hendricks keep Huskies women’s team alive
|Rachel Johnson, (#19) scored the goal that kept the Huskies alive.|
On Saturday night in Vancouver, Johnson, who is a fifth-year forward, scored at the 2:56 mark of the opening period on a setup from rookie linemate Bailee Bourassa, and Hendricks, who is a star fifth-year netminder, made 23 saves to power the Huskies to a 1-0 victory over the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. Rookie Amelia Boughn turned away 17 shots to take the loss in the Thunderbirds goal.
The Huskies victory in Game 2 of the best-of-three Canada West semifinal series with the Thunderbirds forces a series deciding Game 3 Sunday afternoon in Vancouver. UBC took Game 1 of the series 2-0 on Friday in Vancouver.
The Thunderbirds went into the series as heavy favourites finishing first in Canada West with a 23-4-1 mark and being rated first in the U Sports top 10 rankings. The Huskies finished fourth in the conference with a 15-10-3 record, but they split the four head-to-head regular season meetings with UBC.
The winner of Game 3 advances to a best-of-three championship series against the U of Alberta Pandas. The Pandas swept the other Canada West semifinal series 2-0 downing the U of Manitoba Bisons 3-2 in Game 2 of that series on Saturday in Edmonton.
Besides advancing to the Canada West championship series, the winner of Game 3 between the Huskies and Thunderbirds earns a berth to the U Sports women’s national championship tournament to be held March 16 to 19 at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.
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