Netminder gives Dogs edge in Canada West final against U of A
|Jordon Cooke had another spectacular season for the Huskies.|
On Thursday, Jordon Cooke was a repeat winner as the goaltender of the year in the Canada West conference, and this weekend he gives a distinct edge to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team in their quest to repeat as conference champions.
The Huskies host their forever rivals the University of Alberta Golden Bears for the second straight year in a best-of-three Canada West final at the ancient Rutherford Rink. Game 1 is set for Friday at 7 p.m.
Game 2 follows on Saturday at 7 p.m., and if necessary Game 3 will be held Sunday at 7 p.m. The Huskies finished first in Canada West with a 21-5-2 record, while the Bears were second with an 18-8-2 mark.
Last year, the Huskies swept the Golden Bears 2-0.
Both teams will ice four solid forward lines and three strong defensive pairs. When it comes to goaltending, the Huskies have the edge thanks to Cooke, who was also named the top netminder in U Sports last season.
|Jordon Cooke plays the puck behind his net.|
In recent years, NHL scouts lean towards goaltenders that stand a least 6-feet tall in height or taller.
“I definitely set my goals to be better,” said Cooke during a media scrum Thursday at the Rutherford. “I constantly want to get better. I want to be recognized, and hopefully down the road, pursue a pro career.
“If I could repeat from the previous year, that would be a big achievement. We didn’t really loose a whole lot of guys on our team. A lot of our team is a young group of players.
“When you have a team like this, it is pretty to have good success.”
Cooke turned away 56 of 58 shots in last year’s Canada West championship series with U of A. In four encounters from the current campaign, Cooke turned away 126 of 132 shots he faced from the Golden Bears in four games, and the Huskies won three of those encounters. The last of those games saw Cooke post a beauty 45-save shutout performance in a 4-0 Huskies win on Dec. 3, 2016.
|Jesse Forsberg had a breakout campaign.|
Cooke wasn’t the only conference award winner from the Huskies this season. Third-year rearguard Jesse Forsberg captured the Mervyn “Red” Dutton Trophy as the top defenceman in Canada West. Huskies head coach Dave Adolph was named the Canada West coach of the year for the third time in his career, with the last two wins coming back in the 1997-98 and 1999-2000 campaigns.
Centre Logan McVeigh topped the Huskies in regular season scoring with 13 goals and 18 assists, while Forsberg led the conference in defencemen scoring with 27 points coming on 11 goals and 16 assists.
Forward Jamie Crooks and Tyson Baillie, who took the U of A Hockey Alumni trophy as the Canada West rookie of the year, each topped the Golden Bears with 26 points. Crooks had 15 goals and 11 assists in 27 regular season games, while Baillie had 13 goals and 13 assists playing in all 28 regular season games.
Dylan Bredo topped all U of A defencemen in scoring with three goals and 17 assists.
Rookie Brendan Burke and fourth-year veteran Luke Siemens split time in the U of A net. Burke posted an 8-3 record, a 1.70 goals against average, a .934 save percentage and three shutouts. Siemens posted an 8-4-1 record, a 2.82 goals against average and a .905 save percentage.
|Former Regina Pats winger Cole Sanford could be a wildcard for U of A.|
In their semifinal series sweep of the Mount Royal University Cougars, the Huskies did a good job staying out of all the little chippy and trash talking battles that happened behind the play or after the whistle. They will have to repeat that behaviour against U of A.
This series has the potential to go the distance, but when the dust settles, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Golden Bears went down to defeat again due to heroics of Cooke.
Huskies hoops women’s team underdogs
|Huskies guard Libby Epoch speaks to the media on Thursday at U of S.|
When it comes to wins and losses, the Huskies finished with in Canada West with a solid 15-5 record, but were given the conference’s top seed in playoffs due to having the most difficult schedule out of the 12 teams that made the post-season. The top 12 teams in the 17 club conference made playoffs, and they were seeded by a strength of schedule index number.
The Huskies face the U of Alberta Pandas, who were 17-3 in the regular season in one semifinal match set for 6:15 p.m. on Friday at the Physical Activity Complex. In two regular encounters that were held at the PAC, the Pandas took the first game 72-50 on Feb. 3, while the Huskies claimed a 72-62 victory one night later.
The Huskies, who graduated four players in their fifth-year of eligibility last season, can never be counted out due to the fact Lisa Thomaidis guides them as their superstar head coach.
Huskies rookie guard Libby Epoch likes her team’s chances of making noise at home.
“I think our team has just been getting better about working off each other and having that team chemistry,” said Epoch. “It has been getting even better all year.”
“On the road, you kind of feel a sense of like pressure and urgency to kind of win. At home, you have a more comfortable feeling. I think we know what we need to do this weekend, and we will hold ourselves accountable for that.”
The other semifinal on Friday features the U of Winnipeg Wesmen, who had a Canada West best 18-2 regular season record, taking on the U of Regina Cougars, who were 17-3 in the regular season, at 8:15 p.m. at the PAC.
The winners of the semifinal games advance to the U Sports championship tournament, which runs March 9 to 12 in Victoria, B.C.
The bronze medal game of the Canada West final four is set for 5 p.m. on Saturday, and the gold medal match follows at 7 p.m. It is possible the winner of the bronze medal contest could earn the one wildcard berth to nationals.
Dobler quietly sets Huskies games played record
|Alyssa Dobler leads the Huskies in games played.|
The fifth-year defender played her final game at the U Sports level, when the Huskies dropped a 3-1 decision in a deciding Game 3 of best-of-three Canada West semifinal series against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in Vancouver. Dobler scored the Huskies lone goal in that contest, which was also her first and only tally at the university level.
The defensive defender will be more remembered as the Huskies leader in career games played. In her five seasons, Dobler appeared in 137 career regular season games breaking the old mark of 136 contests set last year by feisty forward Marley Ervine. At one time, Ervine’s career regular season games played mark was a Canada West record.
Including action in the regular season, Canada West playoffs and U Sports championship tournament played, Dobler hit the ice for a Huskies team record 159 games breaking the old mark of 155 games which was also held by Ervine. Ervine played in all her games consecutively, while Dobler’s stretch was broken up sitting out three games due to injury in her fourth season.
Thunderbirds fifth-year forward Stephanie Schaupmeyer holds the Canada West record for career regular season games played at 139. She is finishing her final playoff run with UBC.
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