Friday, 11 January 2019

Huskies romp over Cougars

The Huskies celebrate a goal from Abby Shirley, second from left.
    The University of Saskatchewan Huskies Women’s Hockey team landed the knockout blows early in this one.
    Playing before 563 spectators at Merlis Belsher Place on Friday, the Huskies stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the first period over their provincial rivals the University of Regina Cougars. The hosts expanded their lead to 4-0 in the second and cruised to a 4-1 victory in the U Sports regular season encounter.
    A total of 11 players recorded at least one point for the Huskies in the dominant performance. The Huskies have faced their challenges when it comes to scoring goals this season, so Friday’s outburst was a welcome one.
Abby Shirley had a goal and an assist for the Huskies on Friday.
    “It felt really good to come out like that strong, and have a good start to it and then continue it all throughout the game,” said Huskies winger Abby Shirley, who had a goal and an assist in the win. “These are some huge games playing against Regina, obviously, and tensions are pretty high every time we meet.
    “It felt really good to come out on top.”
    The Huskies jumped in front 1-0 at the 6:56 mark of the opening frame, when captain Brooklyn Haubrich knocked home a rebound in front of the Cougars net. The tally was Haubrich’s first goal of the season, and it was a welcome development for the feisty forward.
    “That was a sigh of relief,” said Haubrich. “That was a long time coming for me.
Brooklyn Haubrich scored her first goal of the season on Friday.
    “It felt good just to get the monkey off my back.”
    Just 44 seconds later, Shirley collected the puck at the point and hit winger Bailee Bourassa with a long backdoor pass alone at the left side of the Cougars goal, and Bourassa tucked in her fifth goal of the season to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead.
    While those goals sent the Cougars reeling, the visitors were knocked down to the mat with 66 seconds remaining in the first.
    At that point in the contest, fourth-year Huskies standout defender Leah Bohlken sprung energetic rookie forward Kennedy Brown in on a breakaway, and Brown slipped home a backhander to give the hosts a 3-0 advantage.
    “We haven’t had a game like this all season,” said Haubrich. “I would say it was fun to just get ahead and get some good feeling.
    “A lot of good things were happening on the ice. It was fun to put together a full 60 on our part.”
The Cougars and Huskies engaged in a handful of scrums.
    The Cougars pulled starting goaltender Jane Kish after the first period. She turned away 11-of-14 shots sent her way to take the setback in goal. Morgan Baker stopped 21-of-22 shots playing the final two periods in relief.
    The Huskies lead grew to 4-0 at the 16:22 mark of the second, when Shirley potted her fifth goal of the season in close on the Cougars net.
    As the Huskies took command of the game, Haubrich believed her side played with fairly even emotions, which helped lead to the final outcome.
    “I think the reason we were successful tonight is we didn’t get too high on the score,” said Haubrich. “We just said it was a 0-0 period, and we wanted to win the period.
Jessica Vance makes one of her 26 stops in goal for the Huskies.
    “I think we were able to keep our intensity just by not getting too ahead of ourselves.”
    With 66 seconds remaining in the second period, Cougars star forward Jaycee Magwood roofed a shot to the top corner of the Huskies goal to cut the U of S lead to 4-1. Magwood’s goal wasn’t enough to provide a spark to trigger a comeback.
    Huskies star netminder Jessica Vance made 26 saves to pick up the win in goal. She turned away Magwood on an early second period breakaway, when the Cougars were trying to find any type of momentum at that point in the game.
The Huskies celebrate their win over the Cougars on Friday.
    The Huskies improved to 12-6-1 with their third straight win.
    The Cougars fell to 8-8-3 with the setback.
    The two sides will go at it again on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Co-operators Centre in Regina.
Shirley said her team is expecting the Cougars to make a big push back in Saturday’s encounter.
    “The coaches were just saying in the room we can’t get too excited now,” said Shirley. “The job isn’t done.
    “Tomorrow, we really have to play like we did today and not let them get in our heads. Just coming out strong like we did today I think is a really huge key thing for tomorrow.”

Back in the Express with Lieffers

Cianna Lieffers has developed into an elite level referee.
    I was back in the pages of the Saskatoon Express this week with a cover story on elite hockey referee Cianna Lieffers.
    The 24-year-old worked the 4 Nations Cup women’s hockey tournament last November in Saskatoon. That event featured the senior national teams from Canada, the United States, Finland and Sweden.
    Lieffers, who graduated with two degrees from the University of Saskatchewan, resides in Saskatoon, and she took up officiating at age 11 in her hometown of Cudworth.
    She is a regular on the U Sports women’s hockey and Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League circuits.
    My story on Lieffers can be found by clicking here.

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