The Dogs have received excellent production from two of their stars, Josh Roach and Jordon Cooke, over the course of the first 18 games in the season. The Huskies will need continued support from them as they seek redemption after last season’s losses in the playoffs.
Fifth-year forward Josh Roach is leading the way up front, putting up nine goals and 17 assists, while Jordon Cooke has been stellar between the pipes. The fourth-year netminder currently holds a 12-3 record, a 2.36 goals against average and a 0.914 save percentage.
While many of the Huskies enjoyed a relaxing holiday break, a couple of players were able to take advantage of a tremendous opportunity. Forward Logan McVeigh and Huskies captain Kendall McFaull joined Roach and Cooke representing the program on the national stage as part of the U Sports All-Star Team.
The U Sports team took on Team Canada in a two-game series that served as preparation for Team Canada to later become the World Junior Champions. The U Sports squad swept the series for the first time in the team’s history.
As the Huskies begin the transition back into the Canada West regular season grind, the team will set their sights on surpassing the Alberta Golden Bears to become the conference’s top dogs. The Bears currently sit two points ahead of the Dogs, with a 15-3 record and 31 points. The February clash between the two teams will likely prove to be pivotal, as it has the power to alter the standings significantly.
Former Saskatoon Blade and current Huskie forward Connor Gay speaks about the importance of remaining focused on the task at hand.
“For us, the main thing is staying consistent throughout the rest of the second half. We know we are a good hockey team, but there are a lot of good teams in this league. We need to play a consistent game every night, which will be crucial for us to catch [the] University of Alberta and finish at the top of the league,” Gay said, via text message.
Finishing on top of the Canada West Conference at the end of the regular season would give the Huskies a massive advantage, as it would allow the team to have home ice throughout the post-season. The Dogs have been nearly perfect at home this season, as they’re sporting a 7-1 record at Rutherford Arena, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the team.
“Playing the Bears is always an awesome experience. It is a rivalry like no other, and being able to have the chance to leap-frog them in the standings is something we aim to do. This is our last year at Rutherford Arena, and it gives us an advantage every night, so having home ice is crucial,” Gay said.
While Alberta currently sits above Saskatchewan in the standings, Gay is confident in his team and their ability to take down the defending Canada West Champions.
After a heartbreaking end to last season, where the team fell just short in both the national university championship and the conference championship, the group is motivated to alter their fortunes this go-around.
“Losing both of the championship games stung. It might be cliché, but the saying ‘it only makes us want it more this year’ could not be more true. Being so close and [falling] short makes us never want to have that feeling again. We are going to be ready if we get the opportunity again this year, and we plan on it,” Gay said.
Gay further states that bringing a banner home is the clear aim for this team. “The main goal is to bring the championship back to the U of S, and that is exactly what we plan to do.” The Dogs will return home next weekend to play host to the Manitoba Bisons on Jan. 12 and 13.
Photo: David Lionel