Friday, 19 January 2018

Forsberg hits stride with Huskies

Skilled winger gets in groove after returning from injury

Alex Forsberg (#29) celebrates scoring for the Huskies.
    Alex Forsberg is in his element when he is on the ice playing hockey.
    The 23-year-old rookie left-winger with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team showed that fact off in one shining moment at the ancient Rutherford Rink on Friday night. 
    With his Huskies locked in a 1-1 tie with the visiting University of Calgary Dinos, Forsberg stormed down the right wing on a rush and wired home a shot to the top right corner of the U of C goal to give his side a 2-1 lead at the 4:22 mark of the second period.
    That tally held up to be the winner in a 4-1 Huskies victory in a U Sport regular season clash before about 500 spectators.
Alex Forsberg works rush in the offensive zone.
    “It was good,” said Forsberg of his goal. “I didn’t have the greatest weekend last weekend.
    “I knew I need to be better. It was good to get that one out of the way. It was good to get a win all around.”
    Forsberg came to the Huskies after a stellar overage season playing with the WHL’s Victoria Royals, where he piled up 31 goals and 60 assists in 71 regular season games. He sat out the entire 2016-17 campaign nursing an injured shoulder.
    The Waldheim, Sask., product said being out of the lineup helped from the fact he focused more on adjusting to his classroom studies in the arts and science program. Usually, rookie athletes at the university level go through a period of shock, when they initially start balancing their classroom studies with their sport.
    Still, Forsberg admits he would have liked to have experienced that adjustment last season.
    “I hadn’t actually been in school for three years playing junior, so I was a little bit rusty,” said Forsberg. “Obviously if I could go back, I would play last year no doubt in my mind.
    “I’m happy everything is all healed up, and I am back.”
    In 18 regular season appearances this season with the Huskies, Forsberg has piled up eight goals and nine assists. He is still expecting to be better.
Jesse Forsberg helped his younger brother, Alex, with university life.
    “It is a little bit of an up and down season, but it is kind of expected out of a first year guy,” said Forsberg. “I think I just need to be more consistent, and good things will happen.”
    Forsberg said it was a big help coming to the Huskies with older brother Jesse already on the team. Jesse is in his fourth year with the Huskies, and he has established himself as a star offensive defenceman and an assistant captain.
    The two were teammates during the 2011-12 WHL season with the Prince George Cougars.
    “It is just (like having) another friend on the team,” said Alex. “We live together. We do everything together. It is good that way.
    “Obviously, he has been here for a long time, so he can kind of show me the ropes. He is a leader on our team, so if I get out of line, it is better coming from him than it is from someone else.”
    As for Friday’s game, the Dinos jumped out to a 1-0 at the 2:41 mark of the second period, when right-winger Mitch Cook netted his fifth goal of the season. Just 28 seconds later, sophomore left-winger Carson Stadnyk netted the equalizer for the Huskies.
Levi Cable potted a pair of goals for the Huskies on Friday night.
    Forsberg put the Huskies ahead for good scoring 73 seconds after Stadnyk’s goal.
    Third-year right-winger Levi Cable rounded out the scoring for the Huskies scoring twice early in the third period. Cable netted his first goal on a short-handed breakaway sniping a shot to the top right corner of the Dinos goal.
    He picked up his second tally on a U of S power play. A shot from Huskies defenceman MacKenzie Johnston hit the post of the U of C goal and slid to a stop in front of the goal-line in the crease of the net. Cable snuck in and tapped the loose puck home.
    Huskies star netminder Jordon Cooke turned away 37 shots to pick up the win in goal. Rookie puck stopper Jordan Papriny stopped 38 shots to take the setback in goal for the Dinos.
Netminder Jordon Cooke fires a pass up ice for the Huskies.
    The Huskies, who have won their last three straight and nine of their last 11 games, improved to 17-3-1 to remain tied for first in the Canada West Conference with the University of Alberta Golden Bears (17-3-1).  The Dinos fell to 6-12-3 to remain seventh in Canada West and three points behind the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns (8-11-2) for sixth place and the conference’s final playoff berth.
    Last year, the Huskies lost in a series deciding Game 3 in the Canada West championship to the Golden Bears and fell in the U Sports national championship game 5-3 to the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds.
    Forsberg would like for the current campaign to turn into a special one for the Huskies, but he doesn’t want to take his mind off the moment.
    “Obviously you look at the team, we have a lot of returning players,” said Forsberg. “I don’t want to look too far into the future.
    “We’re just focusing right now and the rest will come.”
    The two teams go at it again on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Rutherford.

Huskies women’s hockey team pulls out eighth shutout victory

Jessica Vance picked up her fifth shutout of the season for the Huskies.
    The U of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team pulled out their eighth shutout victory of the season on Friday night in Calgary.
    The Huskies blanked the host U of Calgary Dinos 2-0 in a U Sports regular season clash before 161 spectators at the Father David Bauer Arena. Captain Kaitlin Willoughby netted her eighth of the season at the 11:21 mark of the second period with Kayla Kirwan and Brooklyn Haubrich drawing assists.
    Defender Emma Nutter sealed the win with an empty-net goal, which was her first of the campaign, in the final seconds of the third.
    Dinos netminder Kelsey Roberts did her best to try and steal a victory turning away 38-of-39 shots fired her way.
    Huskies netminder Jessica Vance made seven stops to pick up the shutout win in goal for her side. The Huskies lead the Canada West Conference with eight shutouts on the season as a team. Vance has five of those shutouts, and she is tied for the season individual lead with Roberts.
    The Huskies improved to 13-7-1 with the win, while the Dinos fell to 6-13-2.
    The two teams go at it again on Saturday in Calgary.

Huskies football lands Hilltops’ Pickett

Rush end Riley Pickett (#43) is taking his talents to the Huskies.
    The University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team landed a major recruit on Friday, and they hope a pile of sack celebrations result because of it.
    The Dogs landed a commitment from Saskatoon Hilltops star rush end Riley Pickett. The 20-year-old helped the Hilltops win the Canadian Junior Football League title in each of the last three years.
    Last season, Pickett, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 240 pounds, was named a CJFL all-star recording 15 solo tackles and nine sacks in eight regular season games. The graduate of Saskatoon’s Centennial Collegiate combined with star fifth-year veteran Tom Schnitzler to wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines.
    Pickett will give the Huskies a big piece when it comes to solidifying their defence at the U Sports level.

Back in the Express with Shmyr

Overage left-winger Braylon Shmyr has been stellar for the Blades.
    I was back in the pages of the Saskatoon Express recently with a feature story on Saskatoon Blades overage left-winger Braylon Shmyr.
    The Calgary product came to the Blades in a trade with the Brandon Wheat Kings part way through the 2015-16 WHL campaign. Over 46 games this season, Shmyr has piled up 24 goals and a career high 38 assists to lead the Blades in scoring.
    The Blades (22-21-2-1) return to action on Saturday for their “Local Heroes Night” game when they host the Regina Pats (24-20-4) at 7 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre. Before the game, the Blades will be honouring the men and women of the army, navy, air force, RCMP, Saskatoon Police Service and first responder force.
    On Sunday, the Blades host the Moose Jaw Warriors (37-7-1-2) at 2 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre. Against the Warriors, the Blades are hosting their “Welcome the World” game, which will feature a citizenship ceremony for about 30 people.
    The story on Shmyr appeared in the Express before the WHL’s trade deadline, and it can be found right here.

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