Friday, 10 February 2017

Huskies lock up home playoff series for second year in a row

U of S takes care of business, gets gift from Dinos

The Huskies are all smiles after a goal from Kaitlin Willoughby.
    The University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team looked after what they could control and proceeded to benefit from a gift from the U of Calgary Dinos.
    As a result of those two developments, the Huskies will open the Canada West playoffs hosting a first round playoff series for a second straight year.
    On Friday night at the ancient Rutherford Rink, the Huskies downed the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns 3-1 to put a halt on a three-game skid. Out in Calgary on the same night, the Dinos upset the U of Regina Cougars with a 4-3 regulation win.
    Those results guaranteed the Huskies will finish fourth in Canada West. The Huskies improved to 14-10-3 with their win, and they have 41 points in the Canada West standings coming off 10 regulation wins, four extra time wins and three extra time losses.
Forward Emily Upgang picked up the Huskies third goal on Friday.
    The Cougars fell to 13-13-1 with their loss, and they have 37 points in the standings coming off 10 regulation wins, three extra time wins and one extra time loss. In Canada West women’s play, three points are awarded in the standings for a regulation win.
    The Huskies and Cougars will also face each other in a best-of-three Canada West quarter-final series. Game 1 is slated for 1 p.m. on February 17 at the Rutherford Rink.
    U of R was locked into fifth place in Canada West after the Mount Royal University Cougars dropped a 1-0 regulation decision to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds on Friday in Vancouver. Mount Royal fell to 10-13-4 and will finish sixth in Canada West with 33 points coming off nine regulation wins, one extra time win and four extra time losses.
    Against the Pronghorns on Friday, the Huskies accomplished a number of positives. U of S was able to control play and keep U of L pinned in its own zone for long stretches.
Morgan Willoughby, right, clears the puck out of the defensive zone.
    The Dogs received goals from three different players, went 1-for-5 on the power play and killed off all three Pronghorns power-play chances.
    After scoreless first period that was controlled by the Huskies, sophomore winger Courtney Cormack put the hosts up 1-0 slipping home a power-play goal from the front of the Pronghorns net at the 5:14 mark of the second.
    With 4:02 to play in the second, star forward Kaitlin Willoughby wired home her 10th of the season top corner on Pronghorns netminder Jessica Lohues to put the hosts up 2-0. Willoughby was playing in her first game with the Huskies since returning from the FISU Winter Universiade in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where she helped Canada’s women’s hockey team win a silver medal.
Courtney Cormack (#16) smiles after scoring a goal for the Huskies.
    The Pronghorns proceeded to give the Huskies a scare in the third period, when third-year forward Delaney Duchek netted her fourth of the season at the 6:20 mark of the third to cut the Huskies lead to 2-1.
    U of S sealed victory with 4:20 to play, when rookie forward Emily Upgang knocked home a loose puck that took a high positive bounce towards her by an open side of the Pronghorns goal to cement the 3-1 victory.
    Huskies star goaltender Cassidy Hendricks had to be mentally sharp turning away 11 shots to pick up the win in goal. Lohues stopped 25 shots to take the loss in goal for the Pronghorns, who sit last in Canada West with a 4-20-3 mark.
    The two teams go at it again on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Rutherford Rink.

Cooke slams door on Pronghorns

Jordon Cooke came up big again for the Huskies.
    Jordon Cooke played like his usual self which spelled doom for the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns men’s hockey team on Friday night in Lethbridge.
    The Leduc product made 36 saves to back his U of Saskatchewan Huskies to a 4-1 road victory over the host Pronghorns. The opening 20 minutes were extremely dicey for the Huskies, who were outshot 21-8, but they still managed to head into the first intermission locked in a 0-0 draw thanks to the stellar play of Cooke.
    Just past the midway point of the second, Huskies third-year forward Parker Thomas scored to put the visitors up 1-0. Third-year Defenceman David Stumborg, who was appearing in his first game of the season, tallied to put the Huskies up 2-0 at the 7:29 mark of the third.
    The Pronghorns answered back just over a minute later, when Sam McKechnie scored to cut the Huskies edge to 2-1.
    U of S sealed victory with a late power-play goal from John Lawrence and an empty-net marker from Michael Sofillas.
    Garret Hughson turned away 36-of-39 shots in the Pronghorns goal.
    The Huskies improved to 20-5-2 with the win, and they had first in Canada West already locked up heading into this weekend’s action. The Dogs have also won 11 of their last 13 games.
    The Pronghorns fell to 11-13-3. They are locked in a battle with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, who are also 11-13-3, for sixth place and the conference’s final playoff berth. The Pronghorns and Thunderbirds split their four head-to-head meetings, but U of L holds the tiebreaker besting UBC 6-5 in points earned in the standings in the head-to-head matches.
    The Huskies and Pronghorns go at it again on Saturday in Lethbridge. If the Pronghorns win, they would qualify for the post-season.

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