Sunday, 12 November 2017

Cooke wins 50th with Huskies

Kendall McFaull, left, gives congrats to Jordon Cooke on his 50th win.
    Jordon Cooke further cemented his status as one of the best goalies to ever play for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team with a unique accomplishment.
    On Saturday at the ancient Rutherford Rink, Cooke made 26 saves as his Huskies, who are rated fourth in the U Sports Top 10 rankings, downed the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds 5-2. With that effort, Cooke became the third goalie in the history of the Huskies men’s hockey team to win 50 career regular season games.
    The other two netminders who have pulled off that feat are Ryan Holfeld, who won 53 games playing for the Huskies from 2010 to 2015, and Jeff Harvey, who picked up 60 wins playing for the Huskies from 2005 to 2010.
    During his career with the Huskies, Cooke has been phenomenal. Currently during regular season play with the team, the Leduc, Alta., product has posted a 50-19-2 record, a 2.38 goals against average, a .920 save percentage and eight shutouts.
    The 24-year-old has been the U Sports goalie of the year and a U Sports first team all-Canadian in each of the past two seasons.
Jordon Cooke makes a glove stop for the Huskies.
    He was instrumental in helping the Huskies win the Canada West title in the 2015-16 campaign and make an appearance in the U Sports championship game – the University Cup – last season.
    Cooke was a prized recruit for the Huskies back at the start of the 2014-15 season have been named the Canadian Hockey League’s goaltender of the year back in the 2013-14 campaign while with the Kelowna Rockets.
    Standing 5-foot-10 and weighing 185 pounds, Cooke was passed over in the NHL Entry Draft as those clubs are hooked on finding netminders who stand at least 6-foot-2.
    With that said, Cooke can flat out stop the puck making key bailout saves, and he should be in the professional ranks. Numerous pears that he played with and against in major junior and the university ranks believe Cooke should be playing in the professionally now.
    What can’t be denied is Cooke has made his mark with the Huskies. He is arguably the most recognizable player on an extremely talented Huskies men’s team.
    He is the type of player you want representing your team out in the community. Cooke is well-mannered, personable and approachable, and he has a pretty slick sense of humour too, which makes him a beauty.
    Cooke has held his own in the classroom too. Before the start of the season, he was named one of many recipients of the Huskie Athletics All-Academic Second Team award for having an average of at least 74.5 per cent on a minimum coarse load of 24 credit units last season.
Jordon Cooke, left, and Levi Cable chat during a stoppage in play.
    For players coming out of major junior hockey, they always face initial anxiety about the classroom work, when they join a university squad. A lot of times, those players will have been out of school for two or three years. Academic achievements are gratifying for those players.
    While Cooke had a solid night on Saturday, Michael Sofillas scored twice for the Huskies, while Kohl Bauml, Parker Thomas and Logan McVeigh all had singles helping the Huskies improve to 8-1-1.
    Manraj Hayer and Tyler Sandhu replied with singles for UBC. Saskatoon product Rylan Toth turned away 36-of-40 shots taking the setback in goal for the Thunderbirds (5-4-1).
    The Huskies return to action this coming Friday when they host their forever rivals the U of Alberta Golden Bears (10-0) at 7 p.m. at Rutherford.

Vance still in prime form after layoff

Jessica Vance in her last game with the Bears on March 25, 2015.
    Jessica Vance showed a layoff of about two and a half years didn’t diminish any of her skills when it comes to play goal.
    On Saturday at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre in Vancouver, B.C., Vance made her second consecutive start for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team. She made 17 stops to back the Huskies to a 2-1 victory over the host University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.
    One night earlier, Vance made 33 saves to pick up a 2-0 shutout victory for the Huskies against the Thunderbirds in her U Sports regular season debut. UBC had been ranked first in the U Sports Top 10 rankings heading into the weekend.
    Before stepping in goal for the Huskies on the weekend, Vance’s last competitive hockey start came way back on March 25, 2015 for the Prince Albert Northern Bears in Game 3 of that year’s Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League championship series. She made 20 saves in that game, but the Bears fell to the host Saskatoon Stars 2-0 at the Agriplace Arena and were swept out of that series 3-0.
    Playing for the Bears from 2010 to 2015, Vance became one of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League’s all-time greatest goalies posting a 48-36 record, a 2.27 goals against average, a .926 save percentage and 16 shutouts in 91 career regular season games. Her 48 wins, 16 shutouts and 91 games played are all SFMAAAHL career regular season records.
    After exhausting her midget AAA eligibility, Vance committed to play for the U of Manitoba Bisons women’s hockey team, but she was forced to sit out the 2015-16 campaign as a medical redshirt after suffering a major leg injury playing competitive softball in the summer of 2015.
    Vance dressed for one game as a backup goalie very early last season for the Bisons before electing to play closer to home. Due to dressing for that one game, she wasn’t eligible to play for the Huskies until Nov. 1 of this year.
Kayla Kirwan scored her first U Sports goal on Sunday.
    Against the Thunderbirds, Vance didn’t show any rust. The 20-year-old played up to her star reputation from the past stopping 50-of-51 shots over two games against a powerhouse Thunderbirds side.
    With those two wins, the Huskies improved to 7-2-1 to sit first in the Canada West Conference by a single point over the Bisons (7-3).
    U of S built that record playing three goalies who have all delivered strong performances in Vance, Jasey Book and Chloe Marshall. Huskies head coach Steve Kook has a good problem of having to make a tough decision of who starts, who dresses and who sits among the trio on any given night.
    In Saturday’s win, Emily Upgang had a goal and an assist for the Huskies, and the assist came from helping set up defender Kayla Kirwan’s first career U Sports regular season goal.
    Hannah Clayton-Carroll had the lone reply for UBC. Amelia Boughn made 26 saves to take the loss in goal for the Thunderbirds, who fell to 6-4.
    The Huskies return to action this coming Friday, when they travel to Edmonton to take on the defending U Sports champion U of Alberta Pandas (6-2-2).

Thompson stones Blades

Jake Kustra scored for the Blades on Saturday.
    The Saskatoon Blades couldn’t overcome a hot goaltender against the Wheat Kings in Brandon on Saturday night.
    Overager Logan Thompson made 36 saves to allow the Wheat Kings to slip past the Blades 3-1 before 4,804 spectators at Westman Place.
    The two teams played through a scoreless opening frame. Baron Thompson scored the only goal of the second period to give the Wheat Kings a 1-0 lead.
    At the 13:45 mark of the third period, Stelio Mattheos potted his 11th goal of the season to give Brandon a 2-0 edge. Blades defenceman Jake Kustra got the visitors on the board with a short-handed goal with 1:15 to play in the third period.
    Saskatoon pressed for the equalizer, but Evan Weinger closed out the Wheat Kings victory with an empty-net goal right before the third period buzzer.
    Ryan Kubic turned away 21-of-23 shots taking the setback in goal for the Blades.
    The Wheat Kings improved to 11-6-1 with the win, while the Blades fell to 7-10-1.
    The Blades return to action Wednesday, when they host the Moose Jaw Warriors (7 p.m., SaskTel Centre).

Get ready for Roughriders hysteria to crank even higher

Quarterback Kevin Glenn led the Roughriders to a playoff win in Ottawa.
    Now that the Saskatchewan Roughriders have won the East semifinal, you can expect the excitement for the CFL club to hit an even higher fever pitch in the province that boasts the “Land of the Living Skies.”
    The excitement in warranted. After missing the CFL’s playoffs for two straight seasons, the Roughriders have exceeded expectations in the current campaign posting a 10-8 regular season record. It has been enjoyable to watch this team come together over the course of the season. Going into the playoffs, the Roughriders had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
    On Sunday before 24,107 spectators at TD Place in Ottawa, the Roughriders downed the host and defending Grey Cup champion Redblacks 31-20. Thanks to that win, Saskatchewan advances to the East Final this coming Sunday against the Argonauts in Toronto.
    In the win over the Redblacks, Roughriders ageless 38-year-old quarterback Kevin Glenn completed 18-of-28 passes for 252 yards and one touchdown to pace the visitors. Glenn carried the ball three times for 10 yards and scored one touchdown.
    Running back Marcus Thigpen carried the ball 15 times for 169 yards and scored on an electrifying 75-yard touchdown run.
    Redblacks quarterback Trevor Harris did his best to try and keep his side’s post-season alive. He completed 37-of-60 passes for 457 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
    Listening to the radio call of Roughriders play-by-play voice Rod Pedersen was fun, when he described Thigpen’s 75-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Pedersen goes right out there being excited for the Roughriders, and the entertainment value of his call was priceless. As a fan, you come away thinking your team is number one, if you are a Roughriders backer like I am.
    At that moment, I was thinking too hard on a serious subject, and that touchdown call came at a perfect time to lighten the mood. I had a good chuckle.
    On the Roughriders front, the figures are crossed for this upcoming Sunday.
    The Edmonton Eskimos dumped the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg 39-32 in the West semifinal. The Eskimos advance to face the Stampeders in Calgary this coming Sunday in the West Final.

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