Wednesday, 22 March 2017

U of S Huskies men’s hockey team had a great run

The Huskies celebrate at playoff victory at the Rutherford Rink.
    Despite coming up short in the national final, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team’s season has to be considered a success.
    On Sunday, the Huskies appeared in the title game of the University Cup national championship tournament in Fredericton, N.B., and they dropped a 5-3 decision to the host University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds, who claimed their sixth U Sport title in the last 11 years. Of course, there was some disappointment the Huskies fell short of winning their first national title since 1983, but the entire season can’t be cannibalized over one or two games.
    Since that last national championship win in 1983, the Huskies have fallen in the U Sports final in 1987, 2005, 2014 and last Sunday. 
    Under veteran head coach Dave Adolph, this marked the 13th time the Huskies made it to the University Cup, but they still haven’t brought the championship trophy back to the U of S.
Jesse Forsberg sets up on the point for the Huskies.
    With all that said, the Huskies had one of the best teams in Canada in the amateur hockey ranks. Any time one could attend a game at the ancient Rutherford Rink you got to see a treat. 
    The Huskies posted a 21-5-2 record to finish first in the Canada West conference for a second straight year, and they were usually rated second in the U Sports top 10 rankings.
    On the national level, netminder Jordon Cooke was named the U Sports goaltender of the year and a first team all-Canadian all-star for a second consecutive season. He posted a 19-4-2 record, a 1.94 goals against average, a .929 save percentage and four shutouts during the regular season.
    Adolph was named the winner of the Father George Kehoe Memorial Award as the coach of the year in U Sports. He had been named the Canada West coach of the year in 1997-98, 1999-2000 and this season, but this marked the first time he was named coach of the year on a national level.
    Defenceman Jesse Forsberg was named a second team all-Canadian all-star after having a breakout campaign in his third season. He piled up 11 goals, 16 assists and a plus-eight rating in the plus-minus department appearing in all 28 regular season games.
Levi Cable scored a University Cup quarter-final OT goal for the Huskies. 
    The Huskies entered the University Cup on a down note having dropped a series deciding Game 3 in the Canada West final 6-3 to their forever rivals the U of Alberta Golden Bears.
    U of S rebounded nicely at the University Cup, which is played in an elite eight single elimination format. Under that format, a team can easily be eliminated thanks to one bad game or even one bad break.
    In a quarter-final contest last Friday, the Huskies displayed some overtime magic, when sophomore forward Levi Cable snuck home the contest’s only goal just 61 seconds into the extra session. The tally gave the Huskies a 1-0 victory over the York University Lions. Cooke turned away 24 shots to earn the shutout.
    The Dogs arguably had one of their best outings of the season in an 8-0 romp over the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men. Logan McVeigh scored twice for the Huskies, while Forsberg, Cable, Carson Stadnyk, Parker Thomas, Wyatt Johnson and Connor Cox all had singles. Cooke made 26 stops to pick up the shutout.
Huskies netminder Jordon Cooke plays the puck behind his own goal.
    In the championship final, the Huskies were done in by a star player, who had a hot night. Varsity Reds standout Cam Braes, who played for the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes and Moose Jaw Warriors from 2007 to 2012, fired home four goals. Mark Simpson had the other lone tally for UNB, while Etienne Marcoux made 18 stops to pick up the win in goal.
    Connor Gay, Jordan Fransoo and Kohl Bauml all had singles for the Huskies, while Cooke turned away 31 shots taking the loss in goal.
    The Huskies trailed 4-1 at one point in the second period, but cut the deficit to 4-3 in the third. Braes proceeded to pick up his fourth goal that that point on a power play, which turned out to be a key insurance marker.
    U of S did pretty much everything this season but win its last game. They fell in the national final to great team, and there is never any shame in that.
    While it would have been nice for the Huskies to win it all, the reality in sports is that it sometimes will just not happen no matter how many times you reach the national championship tournament or the national final. You just have to try again next season.

Towriss heading to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame

Brian Towriss, right, will be inducted Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
    Legendary U of Saskatchewan Huskies football head coach Brian Towriss didn’t have to wait long to get named to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
    Just a little over three months after resigning his post as Huskies head coach on Dec. 19, 2016, Towriss was named part of the 2017 Canadian Football Hall of Fame class on Wednesday in Regina during an announcement hooked into a league promotion called CFL Week. Towriss enters the Hall as a builder along with former Calgary Stampeders president Stan Schwartz.
    Also entering the Hall are a quartet of the league’s all-time great players in Anthony Calvillo, Geroy Simon, Mike O’Shea and Kelvin Anderson.
    Towriss played defensive tackle from 1974 to 1977.  He was an assistant coach with the Dogs from 1980 to 1983 before becoming head coach in 1984. As a head coach, Towriss compiled a 196-118-1 overall record, guided his team to 11 Canada West titles and three Vanier Cup championships.
    The formal induction of the Hall of Fame class will occur on Sept. 14 in Hamilton, Ont.

Blades’ Flodell named WHL all-star

Blades goalie Logan Flodell was named a WHL second team all-star.
    Saskatoon Blades goaltender Logan Flodell was rewarded for his stellar season by being named a WHL Eastern Conference second team all-star on Wednesday.
    The Blades acquired Flodell in a trade with the Seattle Thunderbirds before the start of the regular season. The Regina product, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 166 pounds, appeared in 48 regular season games posting a 22-20-4 record, a 2.81 goals against average, a .912 save percentage and three shutouts.
    He played a major role in almost pushing the Blades into the WHL playoffs for the first time since 2013. The Blades finished ninth overall in the WHL’s Eastern Conference with a 28-35-7-2 record to sit five points back of the Calgary Hitmen (30-32-8-2) for the conference’s final wildcard berth.
    One of Flodell’s best performances came on Dec. 10, 2016, when he made 39 stops in a 2-1 overtime road victory over the powerhouse Pats in Regina. He is eligible to return to the Blades as an overage player next season.
    The WHL also held its annual WHL Bantam Draft lottery on Wednesday, and the Blades draft position didn’t change in the first round. They currently hold the fifth overall position and the 10 overall pick, which was acquired in a trade with the Victoria Royals. In the subsequent rounds, the Blades usually pick in the fifth spot.
    Also on Wednesday, Saskatoon product Connor Hobbs was named the WHL’s Eastern Conference nominee as the top defenceman and was named a first team Eastern Conference all-star. Hobbs, who can return as an overage player next season, had an outstanding 2016-17 campaign for the Regina Pats netting 31 goals, 54 assists and a plus-30 rating in the plus-minus department. The Pats topped the WHL’s overall standings with a 52-12-7-1 record.

Nogier makes NHL debut with Jets

Former Rebels D Nelson Nogier made his NHL debut with the Jets.
    Tuesday ended up being a proud night on a personal front for my family as my young cousin Nelson Nogier made his NHL debut with the Winnipeg Jets.
    The 20-year-old defenceman had 12 minutes and 16 seconds of ice time making three hits and getting one shot on goal. The Saskatoon product, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 191 pounds, has always been known as a sound defensive defenceman who is tough to play against in his own zone. Nogier was solid in his role as the Jets pulled out a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.
    He was selected by the Jets in the fourth round and 101st overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Before Tuesday’s game, Nogier had spent most of the season with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League, where he has collected two goals, 11 assists and 33 penalty minutes in 57 regular season games.
    Before moving to the professional ranks, Nogier spent four complete seasons in the WHL with the Saskatoon Blades and Red Deer Rebels, where he appeared in 235 regular season games collecting eight goals, 42 assists and 196 minutes in penalties. He played for the Blades in the 2013 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon and the Rebels in the 2016 Memorial Cup in Red Deer.

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