U of S advances to Canada West semifinal series
|The Huskies celebrate a triple OT winner from Rachel Lundberg, middle.|
On Sunday, the fourth-year right-winger drove home the winning tally with 10.7 seconds remaining in triple overtime to deliver the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team to a 2-1 victory over the Mount Royal University Cougars in Game 3 of a Canada West quarter-final playoff series.
The win before 420 spectators at Merlis Belsher Place allowed the Huskies to take the best-of-three set 2-1 and advance in the U Sports playoffs to a best-of-three Canada West semifinal series against the University of Alberta Pandas. Game 1 of that series is set for Friday in Edmonton.
“I can’t describe it,” said Lundberg. “I think I blacked out.
|Rachel Lundberg scored the triple OT winner for the Huskies.|
“Everybody was contributing. They were doing great, so I am happy that it ended well.”
Lundberg’s goal was her first point in 18 post-season games. Normally a checking forward, the Calgary product had one assist in 27 regular season games this season and two goals and five assists in 99 career regular season contests.
Her winning goal was created thanks to some hard work on the forecheck by Huskies left-winger Shyan Elias. Elias stole the puck from a Cougars defender in the right corner of the Mount Royal zone, circled up the right side wall and fed a crisp pass over to an open Lundberg in the left slot.
Lundberg quickly fired the winner to the low left corner of the Mount Royal goal to end a contest that lasted 109 minutes and 50 seconds.
“I had come off the bench, because Abby Shirley had changed,” said Lundberg. “I saw that she (Elias) was turning it over and everybody seemed to be looking at her.
“I just got into the
slot and got ready for the pass and was screaming her name.”
|Shyan Elias assisted on the Huskies triple OT winning goal.|
The Huskies most famous overtime win came back in March 2, 2014, when they claimed the Canada West title 2-1 in double overtime in a series deciding Game 3 against the University of Regina Cougars at the ancient Rutherford Rink. In recent years, the Huskies have felt misfortune in overtime.
In last year’s playoffs, they dropped a 1-0 overtime heartbreaker to the University of Manitoba Bisons in Game 1 of the Canada West Championship series. The Bisons swept that series and ultimately won the U Sports national title.
Huskies head coach Steve Kook believed his side wouldn’t experience any disappointments against Mount Royal on Sunday.
|Tatum Amy scored to allow the Cougars to force overtime.|
“Just the way the girls were on the bench. For the first time in an overtime game, I wasn’t nervous. It felt enjoyable being out there.
“The girls carried the play. We (the coaches) didn’t have to do much today.”
The Huskies finished fourth in the Canada West Conference during the regular season with a 16-10-1-1 and were favoured to beat the Cougars, who finished fifth in Canada West with a 12-14-2 record. The two squads split their four head-to-head regular season games.
After a scoreless opening frame on Sunday, the Huskies took a 1-0 lead at the 1:53 mark of the second period, when right-winger Bailee Bourassa blew home a beauty feed from captain Brooklyn Haubrich.
As the Huskies held a big edge in shots on goal and spent lengthy stretches in the Mount Royal zone, it appeared Bourassa’s goal would hold up to be the winner.
|Bailee Bourassa scored the Huskies first goal on Sunday.|
During the three overtime periods, the Huskies outshot the Cougars 34-10. Despite the fact they had chances to end things numerous times early in the three extra sessions, Lundberg said the Huskies never got discouraged.
“I think we were pretty poised, because I think we controlled quite a bit of the game,” said Lundberg. “We didn’t give up a lot of opportunities especially throughout overtime.
“I think we knew that if we just stayed on our path that good would come from it.”
Jessica Vance stopped 24 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Huskies.
DeBeauville turned away 58 shots to take the setback in goal for the Cougars.
|The Huskies press trying to get the winning goal in overtime.|
Going forward, the Huskies playoff journey will increase another level in difficulty. They will be underdogs in their Canada West semifinal series against the Pandas.
The Pandas finished first in Canada West with a 23-5 record, and they are rated first in the U Sports Top 10 rankings. U of A claimed three of four head-to-head regular season encounters with U of S in the current campaign.
For the moment, the Huskies just wanted to take some time to savour their overtime win on Sunday.
|The Huskies celebrate their triple OT playoff victory on Sunday.|
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