Championship dreams a reality for multiple Huskies teams

By in Sports & Health

In an excellent weekend for Huskie Athletics, multiple University of Saskatchewan teams saw success, including men’s and women’s hockey, basketball, track and field, and wrestling. Both hockey and basketball teams will be continuing on to the Canada West championships.

The men’s and women’s hockey teams said farewell to playoff hockey at Rutherford Rink in style. The farewell season at the old barn hosted semi-final action on both the men’s and women’s sides.

The hard work of several Huskies teams is beginning to pay off.

The men snuck past the Calgary Dinos, winning two games to one in the best-of-three series and a trip to the Canada West championship. Carson Stadnyk broke into the zone and roofed a backhand upstairs, sending Rutherford Rink into pandemonium and the Huskies to a 2-1 lead with only seconds remaining.

The series victory comes after the Huskies lost star goaltender Jordon Cooke to injury early in the first game on Feb. 22 and the team’s leading scorer, Josh Roach, on Feb. 23. Taran Kozun stepped in between the pipes to replace Cooke and was sharp throughout the series.

With Cooke’s health uncertain, Kozun provided the team with a steady presence in net and will have the Huskies feeling comfortable if they need to ride with the rookie netminder during the Canada West championships in Edmonton.

The series victory sends the Huskies back to the Canada West Championship for the third straight year, and the team will have their eyes locked in on revenge. Last season, the Huskies fell to the Alberta Golden Bears in the championship series, so they will be looking to change the narrative when game one gets underway on March 2.

The Huskies women’s hockey team also took care of business, sweeping the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds two games to none in the best-of-three series.

The Huskies women’s team entered the post-season with a 19-9 record and were sound defensively throughout the series. Goaltender Jessica Vance turned away 49 of 50 shots during the two games, helping the team qualify for the Canada West championships, where the women will take on the Manitoba Bisons in Winnipeg on March 2.

The semifinal series victories for both teams also ensure berths in the upcoming national championships. The men will travel to Fredericton, N.B., while the women will head to London, Ont., for nationals.

Meanwhile, on the court, the Huskies women’s basketball team is one step closer to their third consecutive Canada West championship, after they took down the Trinity Western Spartans 2-1 on Feb. 24 in a three-game series, booking the team’s trip to Regina for both the Canada West championship as well as the upcoming national championship.

Both of these Saskatchewan programs have dominated Canada West this season, and a meeting between Regina and Saskatoon in the final has seemed inevitable. After splitting a regular-season series one game apiece, the University of Regina enters the matchup ranked as the number-two team in the nation and the U of S slots in at number seven.

Outside of hockey and basketball, the Huskies track and field teams travelled to Winnipeg on Feb. 24 to compete at the Canada West championships at the University of Manitoba.

The Huskies track and field women lived up to their ranking as the number-four team in the nation and brought home the Canada West conference team title. The team was led by star distance runner Julie Labach, who returned home with gold medals in the 600- and 1000-metre events, while also finishing on the podium in the 1500-metre and 4×400-metre relay team with silver medals.

Kieran Johnston from the men’s side displayed his skill on the track by bringing home a gold medal in the heptathlon, while also winning a silver medal in the 60-metre hurdles.

On the wrestling mat, the Huskies are fresh off a successful showing at the Canada West championships, where they racked up 14 medals and used that momentum to their advantage at the U Sports national championships.

Alexandra Schell was victorious in the 48-kilogram category, winning the lone gold medal for the Huskies program at the championship. Schell ended her 2017-18 campaign in a victorious fashion, as she stands as both the Canada West Conference champion and national champion in her weight class.

After winning his fourth consecutive Canada West conference gold medal, Josh Bodnarchuk fell just short of bringing home his fourth gold medal in the 61-kilogram category on the national stage. Bodnarchuk brought home a silver medal, as well as the Student-Athlete Community Service Award.

Kieran Akhtar was the only other Huskies wrestler to bring home a medal, finishing on the podium in the 54-kilogram event with a bronze medal.

The Huskies men’s and women’s hockey teams as well as the women’s basketball team will begin their pursuits for Canada West conference championship titles on March 2.

Matthew Johnson

Photos:

Top: Heywood Yu

Bottom: Katherine Fedoroff