Skid continues for men’s hockey: fourth straight winless game comes at home

A frustrated Huskie squad tries to regroup during intermission.

Home-ice advantage didn’t mean a thing for the Huskies men’s hockey team last weekend against the University of Calgary Dinos.

The Dinos not only handed the Dogs their first loss at Rutherford Rink this season with a 3-2 overtime win Friday, Feb. 3, but also held the Huskies scoreless in a 3-0 victory the following night.

In the Feb. 3 match, an unlucky bounce was enough to stop a Saskatchewan comeback.

The Dogs, who trailed 2-0 after two periods, outshot the Dinos 15-4 in the final frame and evened the game up after goals from Derek Hulak and Kyle Ross.

Only 1:20 into overtime, however, the comeback fell short. Dino defenceman Corey Pritz’s backhand shot deflected off a Huskie defender’s skate and hit goaltender David Reekie’s pad before drifting across the goal line.

Reekie recorded 25 saves on 28 shots in the game while Dinos netminder Dustin Butler stopped 35 of the 37 shots he faced.

In the weekend’s second match, Calgary limited Saskatchewan to just 20 shots while putting up 28 of their own. They stopped the Huskies’ attack before it had a chance to get past centre ice and they held the league’s best power play to zero goals on six extra-man opportunities.

“They found a way to shut all four of our lines down,” said Huskies forward and Canada West top scorer Derek Hulak after being held pointless for one of the few times this season.

“We didn’t bring our best and when you don’t bring your best in this league, that’s what happens.”

Hulak said the difference in the game likely came down to blocked shots. While Calgary limited Saskatchewan’s scoring chances by blocking shots from the blue line, the Huskies struggled to get into the Dinos’ shooting lanes. This allowed Calgary a lot of quality point shots.

In fact, Calgary’s first two goals were shots from the point that were deflected by their forwards — their third goal came on the empty net.

“As a forward, I need to do a better job of getting in the shot lanes,” said Hulak. “A lot of their shots were getting by our first man, and that could have been one of the differences this weekend.”

In order to spark the struggling Huskies team, head coach Dave Adolph even tried splitting up his top line midway through the first period of Saturday’s game. The line of Hulak, Ross and Kyle Bortis — which sports three of the top four scorers in the entire Canada West conference — saw Bortis dropped down to the second line in place of Craig McCallum.

After a few minutes, however, the top three scorers were put back together — to no avail.

“When you’re not scoring goals, you’re looking for anything to get a little jump on the team. I think that’s where maybe different line combinations came in, just to get a little spark,” said Bortis. “Whether it’s with one line or another, we’ve got to get goals. We haven’t been the last couple weekends.”

Butler was perfect in the win for Calgary, stopping all 20 shots he faced including a Michael Kaye penalty shot midway through the third period. Ryan Holfeld, the Huskies goaltender, stopped 25 of 27 shots in the loss.

Saskatchewan now sits at third place in the Canada West conference with a 15-6-3 record while Calgary is one spot behind with a 14-11-1 record. The Huskies’ current four-game winless streak is their longest drought so far this season.

They will look to bounce back into the win column when they travel to the University of British Columbia to face the fifth-place Thunderbirds on Feb. 10 and 11.


Photo: Raisa Pezderic/The Sheaf