Friday, 23 February 2018

Puck luck finally falling in favour of Huskies’ Haubrich

U of S grinds out victory in Canada West semifinal opener

Brooklyn Haubrich scored win winning goal for the Huskies.
    Brooklyn Haubrich slammed a gorilla off her back.
    The third-year feisty centre with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team is finally having some luck around the net after going through a goal drought of just over two years in length. On Friday afternoon at the ancient Rutherford Rink, Haubrich completed a tick-tack-toe passing play from linemates Emily Upgang and captain Kaitlin Willoughby to score for the Huskies.
    Haubrich’s goal put the Huskies up 1-0 with 6:24 to play in the first period in Game 1 of a Canada West semifinal series against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.
    Willoughby centred a pass from behind the UBC net perfect to Haubrich in front of the goal, and she wasted no time in burying her tally. The Hodgeville, Sask., product’s marker held up as the winner as the Huskies blanked the Thunderbirds, who have won the last two Canada West titles, 2-0.
The Huskies celebrate Brooklyn Haubrich’s first period goal.
    “Honestly, I feel like I’m having good contact with the puck,” said Haubrich. “Obviously, that shot was a shot I just didn’t even thing.
    “I just tried to bury it, and I did. I feel good. I feel like I can put pucks to the net.
    “It is a good feeling going into playoffs.”
    With the win, the Huskies lead the best-of-three series 1-0. They will look to close out the set in Game 2 on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Rutherford.
    Between the regular season and playoffs, the Huskies have won all five head-to-head encounters with the Thunderbirds in 2017-18.
Huskies C Brooklyn Haubrich rubs a UBC player off in the boards.
    Haubrich’s only regular season goal in the 2017-18 U Sports campaign came on February 10, when she scored into an empty net to cap a 3-0 victory over the Mount Royal University Cougars in Calgary. That contest was the Huskies last game before playoffs.
    Before that goal against the Cougars, Haubrich’s previous tally came in her rookie season with the Huskies, when she scored in a 3-1 win on January 29, 2016 against the University of Manitoba Bisons in Winnipeg.
    In her rookie campaign in 2015-16, Haubrich appeared in all 28 of the Huskies regular season games recording four goals and three assists. Last season, she was limited to 18 regular season games due to battling a concussion injury around midseason. She had three assists in that campaign playing on a checking line.
Captain Kaitlin Willoughby drives a shot on goal for the Huskies.
    This season, Haubrich has centred the Huskies top line with Upgang and Willoughby. The high-energy forward, who stands 5-foot-4, appeared in all of the Huskies 28 regular season games recording one goal, nine assists and a plus-13 rating in the plus-minus category.
    While she didn’t find the back of the net until the last regular season game, Haubrich said Upgang and Willoughby were always behind her no matter what happened.
    “It got a little frustrating, when they would set me up point blank, and I couldn’t bury for them,” said Haubrich. “They’ve been so good this year, and they’ve been kind of carrying me along for the ride I guess you could say.
Emily Upgang picked up an assist in the Huskies win on Friday.
    “They are so skilled. My goal was all kudos to them. They did all the work for it.
    “They’ve been awesome. I can’t be happier to play with anyone else.”
    Huskies head coach Steve Kook was pleased to see Haubrich come through on the scoreboard and believed his snakebitten by extremely hard-working centre would find the back of the net. Kook was happy to see Haubrich score against the Thunderbirds on Friday.
    “She (Haubrich) was in the right spot at the right time,” said Kook. “We talked about being in the right spot and arriving on time.
    “If being on time and doing things right is feisty, then that is good. We don’t know when she is going to pot the goal, but she generates a whole lot of chances for us.”
Kira Bannatyne (#20) lets out a yell after scoring for the Huskies.
    In the win over the Thunderbirds, the Huskies had one of their best performances of the season. Just past the halfway point of the third period, they received a key insurance marker form fifth-year defender Kira Bannatyne.
    Taking the puck from left-winger Bailee Bourassa, Bannatyne went coast-to-coast and beat Thunderbirds sophomore netminder Tory Micklash with a smart mid height shot blocker side.
Micklash made 30 saves to give the Thunderbirds a chance to win the game.
    Star sophomore netminder Jessica Vance, who is a first team Canada West all-star, turned away 22 shots to pick up the shutout in goal for the Huskies in her first career U Sports post-season start.
    The Thunderbirds had their chances to score. Early in the second period, fourth year left-winger Emily Costales rang a shot off the post.
Netminder Jessica Vance made 22 saves to pick up a shutout for the Huskies.
    Late in the third period, the Thunderbirds pulled Micklash while working on a power play in a push to try and tie the game.
    While Vance had a strong game, she had help from her defence. Third-year defender Morgan Willoughby had a couple of key shot blocks in the third and she broke up another potential scoring chance in the third in front of the Huskies goal.
    Kook was pleased with his side’s overall performance.
    “I thought for the first 10 minutes we were pretty good at handling what they were chucking at us,” said Kook. “They came at us full force there.
    “We knew that the first 10 minutes was going to be a little bit of a whirlwind. I thought we handled that pretty good. We calmed down and started to play our game a little bit.
The Huskies celebrate their Game 1 victory over the Thunderbirds.
    “The last five minutes for us was outstanding. We just played with a lot of composure. I think that was the difference maker for us.”
    Haubrich said her team will face a big challenge in trying to eliminate the Thunderbirds, who are rated fifth in the U Sports Top 10 rankings, from the post-season on Saturday.
    “We know this team is going to come out flying, and I think we have to be able to match their level,” said Haubrich, who is a former captain of the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats female midget AAA team. “Hopefully, we can come out on top and beat them in two.”

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