Monday, 13 March 2017

Flory gives football Huskies sense of continuity

The Huskies football team will now be led by Scott Flory as head coach.
    The University of Saskatchewan stuck to the familiar when it came to naming a new head coach for its Huskies football program.
    During a news conference on Monday, the Huskies announced that alumnus Scott Flory would be the new head coach of the football team. Flory, who had been the team’s offensive coordinator for three seasons, had been serving as a co-head coach since Jan. 12 along with Brian Guebert.
    U of S had been in search of a new full-time football head coach after long time bench boss Brian Towriss stepped down back on Dec. 19, 2016 after a career lasting 33 years.
    Since retiring after playing a star role on the offensive line for the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes from 1999 to 2013, Flory joined the Huskies coaching staff a short time later and was often viewed as the man that would ultimately be Towriss’s successor. That vision played out on Monday, when Flory was named head coach.
    Flory was picked by a selection committee that was chaired by Chad London, who is the dean of the U of S College of Kinesiology, former Huskie and current CFL player Patrick Neufeld, Football Canada president Kim Wudrick and U of S women’s basketball head coach Lisa Thomaidis.
    Before having a storied career winning three Grey Cup championships and being named a CFL all-star nine times with the Alouettes, Flory was a star on the Huskies offensive line from 1994 to 1998 and helped the team win Vanier Cup championships in 1996 and 1998. The 40-year-old Regina product was really a nice safe selection on a lot of fronts.
    First, he maintains a link to the program’s past successes, and it feels natural that he should be handed the chance to bring the team into the future. Flory has a whole host of experiences from his CFL days to bring into his new role. He said there would be a shift in the approach to how football is handled at the U of S and said all aspects will be under the microscope to see what improvements can be made.
Quarterback Kyle Siemens (#19) calls signals for the Huskies last season.
    For the alums of the overall Huskies program, Flory is someone they can identify with. That will be important considering the uproar that when down, when Towriss resigned.
    There was a large feeling a force out took place, when Towriss stepped down. The uproar resulted in a joint statement being made by U of S president Peter Stoicheff and Towriss on Dec. 27, 2016, where Stoicheff apologized for how the news of Towriss’s resignation was handled.
    The statement seemed to calm a lot of the uproar around Towriss’s situation. Flory’s appointment will likely help other disillusioned alums rally back around the Huskies logo. The memories athletes make being part of a program like the one the Huskies run creates long lasting bonds and loyalties for those involved with the program’s various teams.
    Flory’s presence creates a solid line of succession that extends from Val Schneider, to Towriss and now to Flory at the head coach position.
    Also, Flory knows all of the returning players, which helps ease uncertainty in that area. The Huskies finished with a 5-3 regular season record in 2016, but were eliminated from the first round of the playoffs in recording an eighth consecutive post-season loss.
    Even with that in mind, the Huskies really aren’t that far from becoming a team that can win the Vanier Cup again. In the current era where the rules allow for pass-happy football, the Huskies just need to make a few more key plays offensively and force one or two more turnovers defensively to become a club that goes all the way.
    Flory doesn’t have to take on an extensive rebuild. He just needs to find the right tweaks and success could possibly come sooner than anyone thinks.

Huskies draw Lions at University Cup

Josh Roach motors up ice for the Huskies.
    The U of S Huskies men’s hockey team will need to get past the Ontario University Athletics champions to make it out of the quarter-final round of the University Cup.
    On Sunday, the Huskies found out they will be the sixth seed at the University Cup and will face the third seeded York University Lions in one of two quarter-final matches on Friday. The University Cup begins on Thursday at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton with the event’s first two quarter-final games. For the third straight year, the University Cup will be played under an elite-eight single elimination format.
    The Lions advanced to nationals after winning the OUA championship last Saturday with a 4-3 victory at home over the Queen’s University Gaels. The Lions posted an 18-6-4 record during the regular season and a 7-1 mark in their OUA playoff run.
    Third-year defenceman Derek Sheppard led the Lions in regular season scoring with 12 goals and 20 assists. York’s highest scoring forward was Trevor Petersen, who was in his second year of eligibility. The Thornhill, Ont., product piled up 11 goals and 20 assists during the regular season.
    Saskatoon product Mack Shields, who played in the WHL from 2012 to 2016 with the Calgary Hitmen, Prince George Cougars and Medicine Hat Tigers, was the Lions main man in goal. Shields, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 195 pounds, started 18 regular season contests recording a 13-4-3 record, a 1.78 goals against average, a .930 save percentage and one shutout.
    The Huskies qualified for nationals after making the best-of-three Canada West championship final, which they lost to the U of Alberta Golden Bears 2-1. The Dogs topped the Canada West standings with a 21-5-2 record and were 3-2 in the Canada West playoffs.
    U of S will be looking for a post-season breakout from its top forward line of Logan McVeigh, Michael Sofillas and Josh Roach at the University Cup. The trio combined for one goal and three assists in five games in the Canada West playoffs.
Jordon Cooke holds the fort in goal for the Huskies.
    During regular season, McVeigh led the Huskies in scoring with 13 goals and 18 assists. Sofillas picked up 13 goals and 14 assists, while Roach had eight goals and 16 assists.
    Jesse Forsberg, who was named the top defenceman in Canada West, led all Huskies blue-liners with 11 goals and 16 assists in the regular season. Jordon Cooke, who was named the top goaltender in Canada West for a second straight year, was impressive in the regular season posting a 19-4-2 record, a 1.94 goals against average, a .929 save percentage and four shutouts.
    While the Huskies were rated second in the U Sports top 10 rankings for most of the season, the fact they were given the sixth seed at the University Cup shouldn’t be that big of a worry. The seed likely came from the fact the Golden Bears were given the top seed, and seeding the Huskies sixth means the only time those two team could meet is in the tournament final this coming Sunday.
    The second seed was given to the Atlantic University Sport champion St. Francis Xavier University X-Men.
    At the University Cup, every team is good, and anything can happen in a single-elimination format. The Huskies have as good of a chance to win as any squad in the eight-team field.

Huskies women’s hoops team can have no regrets

Sabine Dukate, left, drives to the hoop for the Huskies.
    The U of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team can exit with the 2016-17 campaign without any regrets.
    Hitting the court with a roster that contained six rookies and four second-year players, the Huskies, who won the U Sports title a year ago, really overachieved posting a 15-5 record in the regular season earning a second straight Canada West title. The Huskies grew by leads and bounds as the season moved on, but their run of success came to an end at the U Sports championship tournament in Victoria, B.C.
    Last Thursday, the Huskies fell to the Universite Laval Rouge et Or 69-59. Rookie forward Summer Masikewich led the Huskies with 17 points.
    In a consolation semifinal last Friday, the Huskies downed the University of Cape Breton Capers 65-51. Second-year guard Sabine Dukate topped the Huskies with 19 points.
    In the consolation final last Saturday, the Huskies dropped a 79-76 decision to the U of Regina Cougars. Fourth-year forward Megan Lindquist topped the Huskies with 18 points.
    Despite not having a better showing at nationals, the 2016-17 campaign will go down as a special one for head coach Lisa Thomaidis and her crew. The best for this generation of the Huskies women’s basketball team is still to come.

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