Sunday, 18 March 2018

Huskies drive for U Sports nationals upsets wraps up

Danielle Nogier scored her first U Sports goal on Saturday.
    The effort was there, but the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team couldn’t string together a run of upsets at the U Sports elite eight national championship tournament.
    On Thursday, the seventh seeded Huskies downed the second seeded Saint Mary’s University Huskies 3-2 in a quarter-final match at the U Sports women’s hockey nationals in London, Ont., at the Thompson Arena. Saint Mary’s entered the tournament as the Atlantic University Sport conference champions.
    On Saturday, U of S faced the host and third seeded University of Western Ontario Mustangs, who are the Ontario University Athletic conference champions, in a semifinal match. The Huskies looked ready to pull off another upset.
    While killing a penalty with 2:07 to play in the first period, Huskies defensive forward Danielle Nogier blocked a point shot with her stick and shot out on a breakaway chance into the Mustangs zone. She fired home a shot between the legs of Mustangs netminder Carmen Lasis to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
    The goal was Nogier’s first in U Sports play including the regular season and playoffs.
    The Mustangs jumped ahead 2-1 in the second period on a pair of power play goals. At the 5:06 mark, Mustangs forward Amanda Pereira found linemate April Clark with a beauty backdoor pass and Clark potted the equalizer to force a 1-1 tie.
    At the 10:20 mark of the second, Mustangs defender Emma Pearson fired a shot on goal from the point and the rebounded landed in front of Huskies star netminder Jessica Vance. Mustangs forward Alyssa Chiarello beat Vance to the loose puck and knocked home the tally that would win the game for the Mustangs.
    The Huskies came out hard on the Mustangs in the third period outshooting the host side 9-4, but the U of S shooters couldn’t solve Lasis.
    The contest ended with Huskies defender Morgan Willoughby firing a shot over top of the Mustangs net.
    Huskies fifth-year star captain Kaitlin Willoughby had a number of strong scoring chances in the semifinal loss but couldn’t find the back of the net.
    Vance turned away 24 shots to take the setback in goal for the Huskies. Lasis turned away 24 shots to pick up the win in net for the Mustangs.
Kaitlin Willoughby’s U Sports career has come to a close.
    The loss put the Huskies into Sunday’s bronze medal game against the Quebec Student Sport Federation champion and fourth seeded Concordia Stingers.
    The Huskies threw everything including the kitchen sink at Stingers netminder Katherine Purchase in the first period holding a 14-5 edge in shots on goal in the frame. Thanks to the play of Purchase, the game’s score remained tied 0-0 after 20 minutes.
    Concordia scored twice in the second and twice in the third to pull out a 4-0 victory. Forward Claudia Dubois scored twice including the Stringers first goal 39 seconds into the second period on the power play and her squad’s final goal into an empty net with 2:39 to play in the third period.
    Sophie Gagnon and Brigitte Laganire had singles for the Stingers coming in the second and third periods respectively.
    Purchase made 37 saves to pick up the shutout. Vance turned away 24 of 27 shots to take the setback in goal for the Huskies.
    When Sunday’s game concluded, it brought an end to the U Sports careers of Huskies fifth-year players in Willoughby, defender Kira Bannatyne, defensive forward Kennedy Harris and speedy forward Kori Herner.
    The Huskies posted a 19-7-2 record to finish second in Canada West. In the playoffs, they swept the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds 2-0 in a best-of-three semifinal series before being swept by the University of Manitoba Bisons 2-0 in a best-of-three Canada West championship series.
    For most of the season, the Huskies weren’t able to crack the U Sports top 10 rankings, so they defied expectations outside of the inner circle of the team in making the “frozen four” semifinal portion of the U Sports national championship tournament.
    The Bisons defeated the Mustangs 2-0 in the tournament’s gold medal game to claim their first U Sports championship in women’s hockey and capture the Golden Path Trophy.

Overtime bits underdog Huskies men’s team at University Cup

Parker Thomas scored for the Huskies on Saturday.
    Overtime wasn’t kind to the underdog University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team at the University Cup.
    After upsetting the third seeded and Ontario University Athletics conference champion McGill University Redmen 4-1 in a quarter-final game on Friday, the sixth seeded Huskies concluded the tournament by dropping a pair of overtime heartbreakers at the Aitken University Centre in Fredericton, N.B.
    On Saturday, the Huskies faced their “forever rivals” for the 504th overall time in the second seeded University of Alberta Golden Bears and saw a 2-0 lead fade into a 3-2 overtime setback. Including play in the regular season, Canada West championship series and nationals, the Golden Bears won six of seven head-to-head matches with the Huskies.
    In the semifinal encounter at nationals, the Huskies jumped out to a 1-0 lead at the 12:13 mark in the first period, when gritty right-winger Parker Thomas banged home a loose puck at the left side of the Golden Bears net.
    The Huskies extended their lead to 2-0 at the 17:46 mark of the second, when left-winger Alex Forsberg popped home a power-play goal from the front of the Golden Bear’s net.
    The Dogs ran into penalty trouble in the third, which allowed the Golden Bears to rally back with a pair of power-play goals. First, high-scoring forward Luke Philp scored at the 6:41 mark to cut the U of S lead to 2-1.
    U of A potted the equalizer on a bit of a positive bounce power-play tally with 4:43 to play in the third. Defenceman Graeme Craig fired a point shot that deflected off the glove of Huskies goaltender Taran Kozun, looped high in the air and fell into the U of S net to force a 2-2 tie.
    In overtime, Golden Bears forward Stephane Legault blocked a point shot from Huskies defenceman Jordan Fransoo causing the puck to deflect into the centre ice zone. Golden Bears winger Trevor Cox zipped into the centre ice zone, grabbed the loose puck, burst down the right wing and fired the winner past Kozun to give the Golden Bears the victory at the 3:15 mark of the extra frame.
Kendall McFaull’s U Sports career has come to a close.
    Kozun turned away 33 shots to take the setback in goal for the Huskies. Zach Sawchenko turned away 20 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Golden Bears.
    In Sunday’s bronze medal game, the Huskies faced the first seeded host team and Atlantic University Sport conference champion University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds. The Huskies took a 3-1 lead in the second period, fell behind 4-3 before forcing a 4-4 tie heading into the second intermission.
    After a scoreless third, Varsity Reds rookie forward Alexandre Goulet scored his second goal of the contest at the 4:14 mark of overtime to deliver his team to a 5-4 victory.
    Levi Cable, Jaimen Yakubowski, MacKenzie Johnston and Carson Stadnyk had singles for the Huskies.
    Matt Murphy, Tyler Boland and Olivier LeBlanc replied with singles for the Varsity Reds.
    Kozun turned away 33 shots to take the setback in goal for the Huskies. Alex Dubeau turned away 18 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Varsity Reds.
    Entering the University Cup, the Huskies were pegged as a team that could be eliminated in one game due to the fact they were playing without star goaltender Jordon Cooke due to a knee injury. Cooke was named the U Sports goaltender-of-the-year and a first team U Sports all-Canadian in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 campaigns.
    Cooke claimed honours as the Canada West goaltender of the year for a third straight season this past campaign and he was named a second team U Sports all-Canadian.
    Kozun played really well in place of Cooke.
    When Sunday’s game concluded, it brought an end to the U Sports careers of Huskies fifth-year players captain Kendall McFaull, defenceman Connor Cox, hard-working centre John Lawrence and high-scoring centre Josh Roach.
    The Golden Bears won the University Cup championship game for the 16th time in team history downing the fifth seeded St. Francis Xavier University X-Men 4-2.

Bears return to SFMAAAHL title series

Hannah Koroll scored for the Bears on Saturday.
    The Prince Albert Northern Bears are returning to the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League championship series.
    On Saturday, the Bears, who are the defending SFMAAAHL champions, traveled to Wilcox, Sask., looking to eliminate the Notre Dame Hounds from the SFMAAAHL playoffs in Game 4 of a best-of-five semifinal series. They stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the first period with singles coming from the sticks of captain Hannah Koroll, Kailee Peppler and Alli Soyko.
    The Hounds battled back in the second with Anna-Liese King and Lyndsey Janes netting singles to cut the Bears lead to 3-2.
    The Bears hung on to claim a 3-2 victory in the game and 3-1 victory in the series.
    Ryan Fontaine turned away 27 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Bears on Saturday. Kaitlyn Ross turned away 24 shots to take the setback in goal for the Hounds.
    The Bears now advance to the best-of-five SFMAAAHL championship series to face the Saskatoon Stars for a second straight year. Prince Albert swept away Saskatoon in last year’s title series 3-0. The Stars won the SFMAAAHL championship in 2015 and 2016.
    The Stars have home ice advantage for the series finishing first in the SFMAAAHL regular season standings with a 24-3-1 mark. The Bears finished second in the league standings with a 22-5-1 record.
    The dates and times for the SFMAAAHL titles series have yet to be announced.

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