Thursday, 22 February 2018

Resilient Huskies rally past Dinos 6-4

Star goalie Cooke leaves Game 1 of playoff series with injury

Jordan Tkatch, second from left, celebrates a short-handed goal.
    For a moment, it looked pretty dark for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team.
    On Thursday night at the ancient Rutherford Rink, the Dogs found themselves trailing the University of Calgary Dinos 3-0 at the 14:01 mark of the first period in Game 1 of a best-of-three Canada West semifinal playoff series. On the Dinos first goal, a scrum of players crashed into Huskies netminder Jordon Cooke, who was recently named a first team Canada West all-star for a third straight year.
    Cooke had to be helped to the dressing room after stopping 6-of-7 shots sent his way, and Leduc, Alta., product didn’t look to be in very good shape. He didn’t return to the game. It seemed like everything that could go wrong was going wrong for the U of S side.
Jordan Tkatch scored twice for the Huskies on Thursday night.
    After falling behind 3-0, the Huskies proceeded to catch fire, rolled off five straight goals to go ahead 5-3 and took the opening game of their playoff series with the Dinos 6-4. U of S will try to close out the series in Game 2 on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at Rutherford.
    “Your starting goalie goes down and not much worse can happen,” said sophomore Huskies centre Jordan Tkatch, whose team is rated fifth in the U Sports Top 10 rankings. “We showed our character.
    “When we play our game, that is all that matters. When we play our game, we know what we can do, and it showed tonight.”
    Fifth-year defenceman Brayden Sherbinin scored the Dinos first goal at the 6:59 mark of the opening frame to give the visitors a 1-0 edge. Cooke was injured after Sherbinin’s goal went into the Huskies net.
Parker Thomas scored 23 seconds into the second to spark the Huskies.
    U of C’s edge increased to 3-0 when centre Chris Collins potted his first of two markers in the contest and right-winger Riley Sheen added a single.
    With 3:16 to play in the first period, Tkatch tipped home a point shot from Huskies captain Kendall McFaull to cut the Dinos edge to 3-1.
    Just 23 seconds into the second period, right-winger Parker Thomas potted the rebound from an Alex Forsberg shot to further trim U of C’s lead to 3-2. Just 57 seconds after Thomas’s goal, fifth-year right-winger Josh Roach scored for the Huskies to force a 3-3 tie.
    At that point, the Dinos, who are rated 10th in the U Sports Top 10 rankings, called timeout to try and halt the host side’s momentum.
    Tkatch said the Huskies hit another gear after Parker scored.
Goalie Jordon Cooke, centre, is helped off the ice after being injured.
    “Everyone talks about momentum in playoff hockey,” said Tkatch. “We didn’t stay too high.
    “We kept going. When we got the third goal, we thought we had the game in control, and we just kept it all the way through.”
    The Huskies surge kept going. At the 6:24 mark of the second, Huskies star offensive defenceman Jesse Forsberg worked a give and go in the centre ice zone to get sprung on a breakaway. He beat Dinos goaltender Matthew Greenfield on a deke to give the Huskies a 4-3 lead.
    At the 8:59 mark of the second, Tkatch scored his second of the contest blowing home a short-handed goal to the top left corner of the U of C net to give the Huskies a 5-3 lead.
Jesse Forsberg celebrates his second period goal for the Huskies.
    “It was a two-on-two and the puck kind of poked back, and I was the late trailer and picked it up,” said Tkatch. “I just walked the blue-line and I shot through a screen, and it happened to go in.”
    Greenfield was pulled from the game after Tkatch’s short-handed goal turning away 22-of-27 shots to ultimately take the setback in the Dinos net. Rookie Jordan Papirny stopped all nine shot fired his way playing the rest of the way in relief for the Dinos.
    Shortly after entering the game, Papirny stopped Tkatch on a breakaway.
    Tkatch admitted he would have liked to have scored a hat trick marker on that play.
    “Obviously, who wouldn’t want to score another one,” said Tkatch. “At the end of the day, you can’t let that hold you back.
    “You just have to keep going and just worry about the game. We got the “W,” and that is all that mattered.”
The Huskies and Dinos engage in a third period scrum.
    Collins scored his second of the contest at the 6:30 mark of the third to cut the Huskies lead to 5-4 to create some suspense for the rest of the contest. Left-winger Alex Forsberg scored an empty-net goal for the Huskies with 96 seconds to play to seal the final outcome.
    Huskies rookie netminder Taran Kozun was beaten on the first shot faced taking over in the U of S goal after Cooke’s departure. Kozun found his groove and had a solid rest of the game turning away 19-of-22 shots fired his way to pick up the win in goal for the Huskies.
    Cooke’s status for Friday and possibly the rest of the U Sports men’s hockey playoffs, which conclude on March 18, is uncertain.
Taran Kozun made 19 saves to back the Huskies to victory.
    Tkatch was proud that his Huskies rebounded after their disastrous start on Thursday.
    “You can take that part of the game and go one way, and our team decided to go the other way,” said Tkatch. “Koz (Kozun) went in and we probably left him dry for the couple first goals against.
    “I think it was after the second goal our team really turned around and showed our character.”

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