A Canada West banner won’t be added to Rutherford Rink this season.
The Huskies men’s hockey team failed to repeat as conference champions Sunday night after falling 5-2 to the Alberta Golden Bears in the deciding third game of the Canada West final at Clare Drake Arena in Edmonton.
The loss followed a 5-0 Alberta win Friday night in game one of the series and a 5-4 overtime win by the Huskies Saturday night in game two.
Dogs captain Brennan Bosch notched a hat trick, including the overtime winner, and an assist in game two to help push the best-of-three series to a third game.
His performance seemed completely forgotten by the Huskies Sunday night, however, as Saskatchewan came out flat in the final match.
Alberta took a 3-0 lead early in the game, scoring three goals in just over two minutes midway through the first period.
The Bears first got on the board 10 minutes into the frame on a powerplay when forward Levko Koper shot the puck past Huskies netminder Ryan Holfeld from the top of the circle.
Torrie Dyck added a second Alberta goal only 14 seconds later, while Koper notched his second of the night two minutes after that.
The Huskies elected to pull Holfeld in favour of David Reekie for the second time in the series following the third Bears goal.
Reekie was able to hold off Alberta for the rest of the period, stopping two quick shots just seconds after entering the crease and making a highlight reel save as Koper looked for a hat trick late in the frame.
Reekie’s strong play continued in the second period but it wasn’t enough stop the Bears’ attack. Midway through the frame on an Alberta powerplay, Koper fed a pass from behind the net to teammate Jordan Hickmott. Hickmott one-timed the puck at the net as Reekie slid across to stop it. Reekie stopped the shot but the ensuing rebound found Alberta forward Kruise Reddick’s stick and Reddick fired the puck into the open net.
The Huskies came out strong in the third period but Alberta goalie Kurtis Mucha was too much. Mucha, who had played more than 335 minutes without allowing a goal prior to game two of the series, appeared back on track for another shutout. He was especially problematic for Huskies forward Andrew Bailey, stuffing him twice early in the frame.
Alberta recorded its fifth goal of the game halfway through the third period and the game looked as if it would repeat game one’s score until the Huskies finally got on the board. Bosch was able to solve Mucha with just seven minutes remaining in the game. He fired the puck across the goal-line following a scramble in front of the Alberta crease. Kenton Dulle added a second goal for Saskatchewan just minutes later, but it was too little too late.
Mucha stopped 23 of 25 shots in the game while Holfeld saved 8 of 11 and Reekie turned away 20 of 22.
In the last 17 years only the Huskies or Golden Bears have won the Canada West title, and with this year’s victory Alberta has now claimed the trophy 12 of those 17 years. The win also marked Alberta’s 50th Canada West championship in team history.
The two teams may meet again March 14-17 as Alberta will travel to Saskatoon for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport University Cup tournament. The Huskies, as hosts of the national championship, are given an automatic berth into the tournament.
File photo: Calvin So