Fifth-year hockey players look back on season

Fifth-Year-Huskies

Departing fifth-year men’s hockey players — captain Brennan Bosch and forward Andrew Bailey — capped off their final year with the Huskies by winning silver medals at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championships. For both Bosch and Bailey, the highlight of the season was competing for the University Cup in front of a home crowd.

“We were kind of building all year for that tournament,” Bosch said. “Those first couple games were really exciting.”

This was the Huskies’ second and final year hosting the University Cup. With many of the players having already experienced a national tournament, they knew what to expect and what it takes to be successful.

“There’s quite a few of us that were there last year and the year before we were in Fredericton” for the University Cup, Bailey said. “I think we had a better understanding of what we had to do.”

Bailey also attributed the roster of experienced players with providing support for the team.

“I think we had a good older base with our fourth, fifth year guys that have been there a long time and this was their last chance,” he said. “Those are guys that we can lean on.”

During last year’s tournament the Huskies failed to win a game, falling to eventual champions the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds in their opening game. This year the Huskies returned to the University Cup hungry to compete against the country’s best.

“I think we felt more pressure last year and there was a lot more expected from us,” Bailey said. “This year I don’t think people gave us a big chance. That goes a long way in relieving some of that pressure so we just went out and played.”

The Dogs came out strong during their opening game on March 21 and defeated the Acadia University Axemen 3–2 with a goal from Derek Hulak with just over two minutes left in regulation time.

“We put ourselves in a spot where we were one win away from giving ourselves the chance to win a national championship,” Bosch said. “We were definitely really excited for that opportunity.”

The hometown support was something Bosch and all the Huskies appreciated throughout the tournament.

“It seemed like the atmosphere in that building was as good as I’ve seen it since I’ve been around hockey,” Bosch said. “It was a lot of fun to have that crowd behind us, I think it really helped us a lot.”

Although the team gained confidence after winning their first game, neither Bosch nor Bailey were expecting the Huskies to dominate the way they did the following night. The Huskies defeated the University of Windsor Lancers 9–0 to advance to the final.

“I think everything did go our way on that Saturday night game,” Bosch said. “Not too often do you score nine goals and win the way we did.”

The Huskies played well in the final but fell to the University of Alberta Golden Bears. Bosch credited the whole team in claiming the silver medal but noted a few key players for their outstanding performances.

“I thought our goalie Ryan Holfeld was really big for us all year,” he said. “He gave us a chance to win every single game we were in. I thought he was one of the stars in the tournament for us as well.”

Bosch also applauded Hulak, who is currently trying out for the American Hockey League’s Texas Stars.

“Every year when we’ve needed a big goal or a big play he’s always been a guy who seems to play better in the big games and he definitely did that again,” he said.

After taking to the ice with the Huskies for the final time, both Bosch and Bailey will miss playing with the Dogs and the sense of community that comes with it.

“I’m going to miss the competitiveness of the hockey,” Bosch said. “Going to the rink every single day with 20 guys trying to accomplish something.”

As departing captain, Bosch attributes much of the team’s success to the overall strength and depth of the team.

“We’ve got a bunch of leaders on our team,” he said. “I had a great group of guys around me this year to help out.”


Photo: Jordan Dumba/Photo Editor