Last updated: March 24, 2012 5:33 pm
Despite Huskies' victory, Redmen advance to finals
Saskatchewan defeats McGill 4-3, but not enough to head to CIS men's hockey championships
FREDERICTON (CUP) — It was an emotional game from the start. The University of Saskatchewan Huskies needed to win by six or more to advance, and if they won by two or less McGill advanced.
Needless to say, it was a hard and high expectation to reach for, coming into the game, but that didn’t stop the Huskies.
Although this Cinderella story stopped at midnight, the Huskies pushed the Redmen for a night they’ll remember.
It all started with the powerplay.
At 10:51, Kyle Bortis rung one past Redmen keeper Hubert Morin to start the game, a feat for the team who were slammed early in the tournament with a 5-1 loss against Université de Moncton.
McGill answered the call after at 4:38 to tie the game 1-1 after Evan Vossen — with assists from Picard-Hooper and Wright — put the puck past Ryan Holfeld.
“Our team plays with determination,” said Huskies head coach Dave Adolph. “Our team is not as big as they used to be, [but] they’re fairly physical and they can dish it out.”
The physicality of the game was evident during the period, with a number of penalties being handed out to both teams.
High sticking played a big part in the game.
As the play went on, the Huskies dug their paws in as the Redmen tried to up the score. But that wasn’t to be the case as Huskies goalie Holfeld anchored his team. He was a force to be reckoned with on the backline.
The first period ended in a 1-1 tie.
The second was just as intense — something that can be said of the entire game, as both teams continued to push, shove and try and gain a foothold in the game.
Cody Smuk was the second Huskie of the night to shovel the puck past Redmen goaltender Morin, 2:25 into the second to gain a 2-1 lead.
McGill was unable to respond with a goal during the second and finished the period down 2-1.
Francis Verreault-Paul sniped a shot past Holfeld to give the Redmen an even playing field early in the third, at 2-2.
The Huskies responded directly after at 6:24 when Bortis assisted Hulak in upping the game with a 3-2, further pushing the Redmen.
“It’s certainly a different team than we saw yesterday,” said McGill head coach Kelly Nobes.
But Keven Dupont of the Redmen wouldn’t allow the score to stay as it was, and at 6:51 scored for the Redmen.
It was tied again, now 3-3.
But, this is where the Cinderella story ends.
The Huskies, while they pushed the Redmen and tried to get the number they needed to secure a position going into the championship game, only scored one last and final goal in their stay at the nationals.
This went to Saskatchewan native and team captain, Kyle Ross.
Ross, who is in his last year as a Huskie, would be the final Saskatchewan player to put a digit on the board and finished his hockey season with a win.
“Last hockey game, and getting the game winner ... that was special,” said Huskies captain Kyle Ross.
The Redmen were unable to respond with another goal, but that didn’t matter. When the buzzer rang to mark the end of the game, the Redmen would advance to the championships, and the Huskies would have the bittersweet taste of victory and defeat in their mouths.
“Canada West finally got a win here,” said Saskatchewan head coach Dave Adolph. “I’m real proud of our guys.”
The Redmen will play the victor of the March 24 afternoon game between the Western Mustangs and the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds.
“We have to go through all the scenarios in a tournament like this. So it’s tough to say it’s a loss when we’re going to the final.” said Nobes. “We’re going to the championships tomorrow night.”