|The Huskies raise the Dr. W.G. Hardy Trophy as Canada West champs.|
Fifth-year right-winger Levi Cable fired home a pair of power-play goals to give the Huskies a 3-1 victory over the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in Game 2 of the Canada West Championship series before a record crowd of 2,667 spectators at Merlis Belsher Place on Saturday.
With the win, the Huskies swept the best-of-three series 2-0. They captured their first Canada West title since 2016 and 18th conference title in team history, with 11 of those wins coming in the conference’s modern era that started in 1972.
|Levi Cable scored twice for the Huskies on Saturday.|
“This was our goal. I’m glad we have another one coming up, but this one was a stop on the way. I’m glad we got it.”
After raising the Dr. W.G. Hardy Trophy as Canada West champions, the next one coming up that Cable refers to is of course the U Sports men’s hockey nationals.
Both the Huskies and Thunderbirds are guaranteed berths to the David Johnston University Cup, which is the U Sports men’s hockey national championship tournament. The U Sports national championship tournament is played in an elite-eight format, and it runs from March 12 to 15 in Halifax, N.S.
In the series clinching win over the Thunderbirds, Cable played in his 175th consecutive game for the Huskies including action in the U Sports regular season and post-season. He has never missed game in his career with the Huskies.
|Levi Cable celebrates his first of two goals on Saturday.|
Besides skating in a milestone contest in his streak, Cable was pumped to exit his final home U Sports game with a win in front of a loud and appreciative crowd, which included a raucous student section. The Huskies have been playing out of Merlis since the start of the 2018-19 campaign.
“This was the loudest I have heard this place,” said Cable. “The student section was really going.
“It was a lot of fun to play in front of. I’m glad my last game here was in front of these guys.”
The Huskies drew first blood at the 7:33 mark of the opening frame when right-winger Carson Stadnyk popped home the rebound from his own shot after receiving a pass from Jared Dmytriw.
|Part of the record crowd at Merlis reacts to a Huskies goal.|
The Huskies could have exited the first period with a bigger advantage had it not been for a number of stellar saves from Thunderbirds star netminder Rylan Toth, who made 13 stops in the opening 20 minutes.
Huskies star goalie Taran Kozun, who was named both the Canada West player of the year and goaltender of the year, gave huge props to his counterpart in Toth.
|Carson Stadnyk scored the Huskies first goal.|
“If he does that at nationals, he is going to give the other teams there lots of troubles. It is a big battle (going head-to-head with Toth), and it is fun coming out on the winning side.”
In the final 10 minutes of the second, the Thunderbirds started to melt down taking 28 minutes in penalties in that span of time including two misconducts 10 minutes in length.
The Huskies looked to have gone ahead 3-0 with 3:31 to play in the second on goal from rookie forward Jeff Faith, but that goal was disallowed due to incidental contact on the netminder as a player was pushed into Toth.
The Thunderbirds had to argue to get the goal disallowed. The argument included someone from the Thunderbirds bench throwing a water bottle on to the ice.
While Faith’s goal was disallowed, the Thunderbirds team bench was given a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
|Rylan Toth jumps on a loose puck for the Thunderbirds.|
“The emotions of the game sometimes they get the better of you, and sometimes it doesn’t,” said Kozun. “It has happened to us in the past, where the emotions take over.
“It was nice to see us not on that side this time.”
As the game went along, Kozun said the home crowd gave his side an edge.
“Winning it today in front of all these fans, it is surreal,” said Kozun. “It is going to be a fun night, and I hope the boys enjoy it.”
|The Huskies bench reacts to winning the Canada West title.|
Kozun made 17 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Huskies. Toth turned away 26 shots to take the setback in net for the Thunderbirds.
Huskies head coach Dave Adolph was pleased his team’s four players in their fifth-years of eligibility in Cable, Kohl Bauml, Andrew Johnson and Logan McVeigh were able to win on conference title in their final home game.
|The student section reacts to the Huskies Canada West title win.|
“They’ve had dynamic goals each and every year I think with the exception of maybe A.J. He has been more of a penalty killer the last two years. He was on the forefront when he first started.
“You live and die with your seniors, and I don’t care what sport it is. Ours have been good.”
Adolph said it doesn’t come as a surprise that Cable, Bauml, Johnson and McVeigh were members of the last Huskies team to win a Canada West title at the squad’s former long time home in the ancient Rutherford Rink and are members of the first Huskies team to win a conference title in the squad’s new home in Merlis.
|Merlis Belsher, second from left, presents the championship trophy.|
“They’re outstanding students. They are what Huskies should be, really they are.”
The Huskies entered the series with the Thunderbirds as decided favourites finishing second in the Canada West Conference with a 22-4-2 record and being rated second in the U Sports Top 10 rankings. U of S has won 15 straight games including action in the regular season and playoffs.
The Thunderbirds have enjoyed a Cinderella run to get to this point after finishing fifth in Canada West with a 9-14-4-1 mark. They cracked the U Sports Top 10 rankings this week at the ninth position.
Huskies were the favourites, they did stumble out of the gates to start the
regular season posting an 0-3-1 record. Cable said he was impressed with how
his Huskies have persevered through the tough stretches to put together a great
season to date.
|Captain Tanner Lishchynsky takes a spin with the Dr. W.G. Hardy Trophy.|
“At the beginning of the year when we went 0-3-1, it was looking a little bit different than years previous,” said Cable. “I’m just glad the group came together, and we put together a good run to finish the season.”
With that in mind, Cable said he doesn’t want the run of success to end here.
|The Huskies celebrate winning the Canada West championship.|
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