|Kaitlin Willoughby was on fire, but she couldn’t push the Huskies to a win.|
Kaitlin Willoughby put on her superhero cape, but her efforts weren’t enough for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team to overcome a tough break.
On Saturday night at the ancient Rutherford Rink, Willoughby’s Huskies trailed the visiting University of Manitoba Bisons 2-0, and from there, it appeared the fifth-year star captain was going to save the day.
She scored two highlight reel goals to force a 2-2 tie, and it appeared those in attendance were going to see another special night from the Prince Albert product.
With 4:49 to play in the game, the officials assessed a bodychecking call against Willoughby’s linemate, Emily Upgang. The penalty was a tough one to take as the officials had let a number of other possible infractions go during the previous six minutes, but in hockey, breaks like that call sometimes go against you.
|Venla Hovi set up the winning goal for the Bisons.|
Star Finnish forward Venla Hovi slipped a pass across the front of the Huskies goal to defender Erica Rieder, who pinched down from the point to the slot. Rieder made no mistake in burying the go-ahead tally past Huskies netminder Chloe Marshall.
Led by Willoughby, the Huskies pressed for another equalizer in the game’s final minutes and seconds but couldn’t put the puck past Bisons fifth-year netminder Rachel Dyck. The visitors held on for a 3-2 victory.
For the supporters on the host side, the first immediate reaction is to feel disappointment. Willoughby’s two goals push her closer to the 100-point plateau for her career in regular season play.
She now has 44 goals and 53 assists for 97 points during her career in regular season play with Huskies.
She was heroic against the Bisons, but the reality in sports is the star player can’t always write a storybook ending to the game.
|Erica Rieder (#17) celebrates her power-play game-winning goal.|
Just 3:48 into the second, the visitors went ahead 2-0, when star fourth-year forward Alanna Sharman received a nice setup pass from Natasha Kostenko in front of the Huskies goal and fired home her first of the season.
From there, Willoughby went to work. Shortly after the Bisons went ahead 2-0, Willoughby drove down the right wing and wired a shot from about 50-feet out to the top left corner on Dyck to cut the visitors lead to 2-1.
At the 11:50 mark of the third, Willoughby took a pass from Upgang and charged into the offensive zone on anther powerful rush. She cut through the Bisons skaters and potted her second goal of the contest to even the score at 2-2.
|Kaitlin Willoughby will go down as an all-time Huskies great.|
It appeared Willoughby, who is the fourth all-time leading scorer in the U of S women’s hockey program, was going to will the Huskies to a third straight victory.
The Bisons ultimately cashed in on their late third period break.
Marshall made 18 stops in goal for the Huskies (3-2-1). Dyck turned away 25 shots in goal for the Bisons (3-3).
In defeat, Willoughby showed why she is one of the best ever to play in the history of the Huskies women’s hockey program. While she couldn’t help the Huskies post a storybook comeback win on Saturday, it is safe to believe she has a few more highlights in store for spectators as her final season progresses.
The Huskies return to action this coming Friday against the U of Calgary Dinos at 7 p.m. at Rutherford.
Thomas delivers in Dogs’ road win, Cooke rises up career list
|Parker Thomas scored twice for the Huskies in a road win in Winnipeg.|
On Saturday night at the Wayne Fleming Arena, the Winnipeg product scored twice to help the Huskies blank the U of Manitoba Bisons 6-0 in a game that had a rough edge to it. The two teams combined for 158 minutes in penalties in a clash that took two hours and 30 minutes to play.
Thomas had the Huskies second goal of the contest and rounded out the scoring for the visitors with the sixth goal. Linemates Alex Forsberg and John Lawrence each had two helpers in the win. They combined to set up Thomas on each of his goals.
The Huskies, who improved to 5-0-1, also received singles from Colby Harmsworth, Jesse Forsberg, Josh Roach and Kohl Bauml.
Superstar netminder Jordon Cooke made 34 saves to pick up the shutout win in goal for the Huskies, who are rated third in the U Sports top 10 rankings.
The victory was the 47th of Cooke’s regular season career with the Huskies moving him one win ahead of Thomas Vicars for third all-time in the history of the U of S men’s hockey team. Vicars compiled his 46 career wins playing from 2002 to 2005.
|Jordon Cooke is climbing Huskies career goaltending lists.|
Byron Spriggs started in goal for the Bisons, who fell to 2-4, and turned away 19-of-23 shots over the first two periods. Dasan Sydora stopped 15-of-17 shots playing the entire third period in a relief appearance.
The Bisons downed the Huskies 4-3 in overtime at the same venue one night earlier.
The Huskies return to action this coming Friday, when they travel to Calgary to face the U of Calgary Dinos (3-1-2).
Parker powers Stars over Bears
|Mackenna Parker had a four-point night for the Stars.|
On Saturday night at the Agriplace Arena, Parker set up three goals and scored into an empty net in the final seconds of the third period to deliver the Stars to a 4-2 victory over the Bears. Saturday’s encounter marked the first time the two teams played each in a game that counted since the Bears swept the Stars in last March’s best-of-five Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League championship series to capture the Fedoruk Cup.
The Bears series win ended the Stars two-year run as league champions.
During their first clash of the 2017-18 campaign, Parker set up skilled forward Grace Shirley for a pair of power-play goals and Jordyn Gerlitz for an even-strength marker helping the Stars build a 3-1 lead after two periods.
Skilled forward Abby Soyko scored for the Bears on the power play in the first period. With 71 seconds to play in the third, Jasper Desmarais tallied the Bears second power-play goal of the contest to cut the Stars lead to 3-2.
The visitors weren’t able to get any closer, as Parker sealed the win for the hosts with her empty-net tally.
Jordan Ivanco stopped 27 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Stars (7-0). Ryan Fontaine turned away 33-of-36 shots to take the setback in goal for the Bears (4-1).
The Stars and Bears go at it again on Sunday at 2:15 p.m. at the Agriplace Arena.
Raiders’ Kelly squashes Blades rally
|Parker Kelly scored the overtime winner for the Raiders against the Blades.|
On Saturday night at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert, Kelly’s second goal of the game came at the 3:05 mark on overtime to lift the Raiders to a 4-3 victory over the Blades before 2,195 spectators. The Raiders held a 3-1 lead before the Blades forced overtime scoring a pair of late third period goals.
Feisty forward Caleb Fantillo netted his third of the season with 2:10 to play in the third, and Chase Wouters potted the equalizer 49 seconds later for the visitors to force a 3-3 tie.
Those goals set the stage for Kelly’s dramatic winner in the extra session.
Josh Paterson had the Blade first goal of the contest. Jordy Stallard and Curtis Miske had singles for the Raiders.
Ryan Kubic made 23 stops to take the loss in goal for the Blades (3-6-1). Ian Scott turned away 30 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Raiders (4-4-3).
The Blades return to action Tuesday, when they host the Victoria Royals at 7 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre. The Raiders are next in action on Wednesday, when they host the Royals at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
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